1. #1
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    MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Default " Engine 1, What Is Your Location?"

    That is a a common question for either the Base Station, or Dispatch to ask, right? We have all heard it asked when the Base Radio Operator looses track of where a vehicle is, especially when multiple events start to happen.

    A few months ago our entire Dispatch Region changed to a narrow band frequency radio signal, which facilitated changing radios and all sorts of comms gear. This has naturally caused a lot of "dead zones" where none existed... so last night we all went off to the four corners of our district to do mobile and portable radio checks on all our channels to try and sort this out.

    So there I am with a crew, sitting at the top of Aikman Rd, about 1/4 mile from the base radio talking to Truck 2 on our second tactical frequency. I had also been talking to the Base, so when a female voice called me and asked my location, I gave it. The three of us started to get confused when she then asked "Engine 1, are you anywhere near 250th Street and (static for cross road), could you please respond to an ems call at.... *address*....?"

    For about 5 seconds there was dead silence in the cab, as the three of us looked at each other. I responded back by explaining that "No, we are not anywhere near that location...." At that point I had no idea how to answer any further. Truck 2 began calling me back for further checks, and the call was dropped.

    During the course of the evening, King County Dispatch (Seattle, WA) attempted to dispatch me at least three other times.

    It would seem that when Industry Canada revamped our frequency ranges, they did not account for that fact that our repeater sits atop a small moutain at approximately 1000 ft above sea level. Our #2 Tactical is the same as King Country dispatch. It wasn't quite so bad using the portables, but the truck mobiles apparently have a very long range. We also had problems on our other freqs, with signals from stations we could not identify who were "stepping" over our transmissions. The Chief is preparing a formal report based on this evolution and some of our past emergency calls, where we were not able to communicate effectively either between personnel or with Base/Dispatch.
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  2. #2
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    Ain't being neighbors great! Our county is legally limited by the FCC on the amount of power that can be used by portable and mobile radios because of our proximity to our neighbors in Ontario. Holy hell will break loose if there is bleed-over or interference. This has hamstrung the counties current low band system..several companies have regular problems receiving tone outs and using their portables on scene. The county is working on implementing a low-hi cross band repeater system that will hopefully provide everyone with some relief and better performance.

  3. #3
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    And the funny thing is that it is the municipal maintinance that has us hamstrung. Kinda fun when you are requesting MA for a structure fire and get interupted by a garbage truck on the other side of the ditch.
    TC,
    I thought that low-high repeater was only going to be out in the Olcott Newfane area. Are there plans to go county wide? I certainly hope not. Might make life below the hill a little difficult.
    Shawn M. Cecula
    Firefighter
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

  4. #4
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    Shawn,

    Olcott and Newfane went out and leased the repeaters and radios because they were having so many problems. They're spending $300 a month of their own money to use the system. The plan is that the county is going to the cross band system sometime this year (cross your fingers)...it was part of the $3M bond that was passed to move the communications room from the jail over to the new PSTF building. 16M7 gave a demo at a Chiefs meeting a few months ago....seems like a workable alternative to what we have now. Other nice thing is that you won't have to run out and buy all new radios if you can't afford it or don't want to...our current low band stuff will work just like it does now. Benefit #2 is that the high band portables are cheaper than the low band radios so you'll get more for your $$.

    Apparently the long term goal is that the state may be putting in a 700 or 800 mghz infrastructure and the county would then consider tapping into that system. That should be fun.....if the state ever gets the system in place.

    BTW....how's the hall coming? I don't get out west too often.
    Last edited by TCFire; 02-06-2004 at 02:56 PM.

  5. #5
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    I had heard that the state was thinking about switching, I am not sure how much I like that idea. I thought that terrain played havoc with the 800mhz frequencies. Would they still plan on maintaining a statewide fire frequency on that? If so then I see some big money being poured into the pockets of the radio manufacturers.

    We are about 3 weeks from being ready to move in. I would like to see us wait until we get the front and rear aprons paved before we put any apparatus over there. It will be nice though, 4 double depth drive through bays (10 bays total), all of our apparatus in one building (instead of having to run into the back to get the rescue) and wider doors to keep the new drivers from wacking the ambulance mirrors on the door frames. You should come by and see it some time. I believe that we will be having a big open house late spring early summer.
    Shawn M. Cecula
    Firefighter
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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