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  1. #1
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    Default portable radios for fireground operations

    I am looking for input/opinions on the proper amount of radios for operations. My current department covers area in two counties and has a (1) portable for each county in the two first out engines,heavy rescue and brush truck. Also all the officers have a portable for both counties. I know this is well short of what we need to operate smoothly and safely. Thanks for any input.
    Last edited by FF1544; 01-30-2005 at 01:12 AM.


  2. #2
    Forum Member firenresq77's Avatar
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    1 portable for every FF operating on a scene. Nothing les..
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  3. #3
    Forum Member spearsm's Avatar
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    Unhappy

    I couldn't agree with you more `77!

    If you have Firefighters that are truly engaged on scene, they should have the ability to communicate! Carrying a pager is not effective two way communication. Listening for yells, bells and oh he11s don't cut it either!

    O.k. I'm done now...Rant off!
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    MembersZone Subscriber mcaldwell's Avatar
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    Default

    Having stated the ideal, we'll get with reality for a minute.

    I agree that every FF SHOULD arrive with a radio, but that kind of budget doesn't exist in many rural depts. We choose to provide every officer with a radio (mostly to answer the dispatch calls), and we place three portable radios on each five man truck, or one radio on a three man truck. Assuming the truck operator stays with the vehicle, and the front seat is filled by an officer, this allows each initial attack FF to have a radio. Reserve personnel arriving to staging will have to swap radios with those entering rehab, or scrounge.

    Exposure and ventilation teams may be stripped of one of thier extra radios if required, but we never send a team out, or a member into a building without at least one radio.

    On a full scale response, it can get thin, so it is up to the accountability and/or safety officer to make the call on whether or not some tasks can be completed safely.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    FF1544, we have similar issues as you. We run Mutual and/or Automatic Aid to two different jurisdictions.

    One is currently on a VHF system but is in the process of switching to a digital trunked system. We have one portable and a mobile in each rig for their current system. We will be lucky if we get one portable for their new system due to the expense of the radios and a $225.00 per year per radio subscriber fee.

    The other is on an analog trunked system for which we have 2 portables and no mobiles.

    With radios for trunked systems costing thousands of dollars the only practical solution we have is for one of our Chiefs to act as liason from the other department's command post and use one of our radios to communicate with our crews.
    FTM-PTB-DTRT

  6. #6
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    and I dont even wanna think about what is going to happen to us .....
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  7. #7
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    The two county area that we work in se UHF (460 range) The radios we use (relm) are les expencive than most pagers and can work as pagers. If this poor rural area goes to an 800 trunk system I don't know what we will do, May stay UHF and officers have both.
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  8. #8
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    I don't want to change the subject too much, but whoever sold you relm radios for firefighting needs to have their head examined.

    Our trucks are setup with one portable for every airpack and + driver. That pretty much amounts to one for each seat on the truck. The pickup truck also has 2 and the medical truck has 1. The driver's portable on the two engines have headsets on them. The others have speaker/mics. Remember, the does no good if it is burried under a coat and you can't reach it. You need a mic. All the officers have radios issued to them as well. We had the Scott Radiocom SCBA speaker/mics but haven't changed them since our radio upgrade. It's on the list, but it is expensive.

    Everyone obviously has pagers. It's a mix of Minitor II and IV. I'm going to be experimenting with some small kenwood TK-3160's for paging in the near future.
    Last edited by nmfire; 01-16-2005 at 10:11 AM.
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  9. #9
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    our old system used to be 1 portable per truck, with the officers getting assigned their own.

    Then we added a second portable in the back, so 1 firefighter in the back could have a radio too.

    we then recieved a FEMA grant for like 250,000 to put one radio for each seat on the apparatus, as well as to upgrade our radios, so now we have 1 for each FF on the fire ground.

    my opinion is that budget permitting, every FF on a fire scene needs to be able to have a radio.

    if you can't for budget reason, then the minimum should have is two portables in every truck. reason being, if you have a 6 or 4 man crew, when you break up into 3 and 3 or 2 and 2, both teams have a radio. not ideal, but better than just one radio.
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  10. #10
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    1 portable for each "team". Plus each officer has a portable. For example, our 1st due engine rolls with 5, driver, officer, nozzle, backup, control. Driver operates pump, control makes hydrant connection, officer nozzle backup go as a team. 1st due truck, part of the crew is officer irons can. Those three operate as a team and don't all have portables.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  11. #11
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    Smile Remember when?

    I remember when we had no radios. If you needed something you found a nearby house with a phone and hoped the party line was open.

    When we got one, it was a hand-me-down from the police. Old GE with a dynamotor. Hold the mike for a minute before you talk. We could only talk to the local police or the state police district headquarters. The only controls were a volume and squelch. What's more we still put out fires.

    Regardless of all the above, I firmly believe that every firefighter on the fire ground should have a radio. After all, this is 2005.

    Stay safe,

    Pete
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  12. #12
    Forum Member MetalMedic's Avatar
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    I'm not sure that I agree with EVERYONE having a radio. We have some departments around here where most of the members have a radio and it becomes a real mess on the air when they are called out. I think a radio for each "team" would be approrpiate along with a LOT of training on radio discipline. It seems to me that volunteers (and I am one as well, so calm down) often tend to talk on the radio just so they can be heard. Too many times I hear radio traffic that has absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the incident.

    While Pete892's post has some irony to it. Do you all know that in the USA under FCC rules for public safety radios that you are not to use the radio to transmit information when there are other means available? So, if you have a cell phone, it might be more approrpiate to use it to call for more resources than using the radio. If you can see who you want to talk to, it may be better to use hand signals or walk up to them and have a conversation.

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  13. #13
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Yes, the FCC says that. It also says you are supposed to press monitor and listen everytime before you transmit. I'm sure we all do that too

    That rule, like many others, was probably written before cell phones existed. It should in no way be constrewed to condone the use of commercial cell phones as a primart means of emergency services communications.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  14. #14
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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    Originally posted by MetalMedic
    I'm not sure that I agree with EVERYONE having a radio. We have some departments around here where most of the members have a radio and it becomes a real mess on the air when they are called out. I think a radio for each "team" would be approrpiate along with a LOT of training on radio discipline. It seems to me that volunteers (and I am one as well, so calm down) often tend to talk on the radio just so they can be heard. Too many times I hear radio traffic that has absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the incident.
    That's a command and control issue, and a training issue.

    I'd buy into your reasoning if firefighters always got in trouble in pairs. But that's not the case.

    Everyone needs to be able to call for help on their own.
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  15. #15
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    Best case 1 radio per firefighter. Worst case, 1 radio for each pair of firefighters.

    We received a FEMA grant a few years ago and issued a high band (VHF) portable to every firefighter.

    How about frequencies ?

    We are currently licensed to 3 VHF frequecies for my department : We are dispatched on low band, which is then linked to a high band frequency.

    Second high band frequency is for fireground operations & third is for Fire Police operations.

    We have in the past broken down 2nd frequency to interior & 3rd frequecncy to exterior operations.

    In the process of getting additional VHF frequencies for other tatical uses / possible repeater operations.

    Additional radios are on the apparatus for mutual aid departments or for members who either forget to bring their radios or when the batteries die.
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  16. #16
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    I guess my dept is lucky, EVERY FF gets a radio (we dont even have pagers, unless you choose to buy your own)

  17. #17
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    My dept has a total of 4 Radios?? Is that not the saddest thing in the world...No wait..5...Then two TMR's but they are not used on Fireground because well basically nobody uses them...
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  18. #18
    Assistant Chief 911brad's Avatar
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    Thumbs down wish you guys could help me out some...

    My department has 5 radios... one for the Chief and three assistant chiefs... the rest of us get to fight over the other one. Our Chief refuses to let more people use radios because he feels that they'll be abused even though more than half of us are professionals on the radio in another capacity (ie. cop, dispatcher, paramedice etc...) A couple of us more "progressive" guys tried to start a movement to vote him out (yeah vote for chief, that's another subject for another day) but were shot down by the good old boy majority.

    Our argument for more portable radios the other night turned into a him vs. us yelling argument. It is NOT a budget issue for us, it's a power issue for him. He won't accept that we understand that if it's abused it can be taken away. As a side note, as a dispatcher I have heard him using his radio for personal use with his buddy, a neighboring chief. Due to the good old boys club this was brought up at meetings and dismissed... I can't wait to get hired on a full time department and not look back.

    Taking a deep breath and stepping back of the soap box..



    Brad
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  19. #19
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    brad, we had the same problem on my volley dept. about 6 or 7 years ago. we got a new cheif and the radio problem was solved. now all but a few of our very newest members have a radio. i agree that everyone should have a radio, that doesnt mean that everyone should talk on the radio. talking on the radio by anyone other than an officer should be restricted to only vital info that can only be conveyed by no other method.

  20. #20
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    Our dept doesn't have the money to buy a radio for every member on the Dept. Not that we would need to anyway since half the department would never show up anyway. That would be the good old boy part of the network. We have portables for just about every seat in our trucks plus one or two. We have enough for 15 guys and that is usually all we can get to come to calls. Oh Sure they come to the meetings and whine about us wanting to get equipment that we need, then they sit around and drink beer that they didn't pay for and that shouldn't even be in the station..... Oh wait getting sidetracked.....
    Anyway I beleive that every member on a scene must have a radio. For their safety and everyone else.

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