1. #1
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    Default Radios, how many can we have?

    At my station we have a bit of a touchy subject. Actually we have a bunch of them, but I'll narrow the field down to one. Radios. There are a bunch of us at the station who feel we don't have enough of them, specifically portable radios. Just to give you an idea of my station here is a brief description of us.

    Apparatus:
    Two Engines
    One Quint
    One Tanker
    One Light Rescue
    One Brush
    One Squad (personnel carrier and cascade system)
    Two Ambulances
    One Fire Duty Vehicle
    One EMS Duty Vehicle

    Avg Calls:
    10-20 EMS calls per week
    2-12 Fire calls per week
    4-12 MVA calls per week

    Radios:
    Two on each engine
    Two on the quint
    One on each ambulance
    One in the Fire Duty Vehicle
    Soon to be One in the EMS Duty Vehicle
    1 for each Officer (combined EMS & Fire is 10 Officers)
    1 for Safety Officer
    1-2 for the Fire Police (not sure how many fire police we actually have now that I think about it)

    So back to where I started. There are a bunch of us that think we could stand a few more radios, not a hundred more but about 10-20 more roughly. In addition we would like for those that have their own personal portable radios be given the PL codes and permission to use their own radios in accordance with a strict SOG. The SOG for our radios is currently under revision but there is one snag that we keep running into.

    We are being told that we (either us or the county, not sure who the license is through, I believe the county) has too many radios. The FCC won't let us get anymore. I can sorta understand this, but there seem to be some discrepencies. Take for example the county ambulance authority. For every full time member they have each person has their own issued radio. Everytime the authority hires they get a new radio for the new person. So...whenever they hire they are increasing their total stock of portables.

    So what I'm looking for is some documentation on how many radios we are allowed to have. No one from my department has been able to provide me with anything and a few have been rather rude in telling me that. The county 911 director has not been forthcoming with any information either. So basically all I have to go off of is the word of some people. It's not that I don't trust them, it's just that I like paperwork that is official, not word of mouth. So if anyone can give me some advice on how to get said paperwork, I'd be grateful.

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    Sounds to me like somebody is giving you a line of BS to get you off thier back.

    Someone with knowledge of your area will hopefully know how West Virginia licensing works, but I have never heard of licensing individual radios. You must pay for every frequency you use, but you don't sound like you need any additional frequencies.

    My quick math says you currently have just under 25 radios in service. That is not a bad number, but if you run multiple scenes I could see needing (or should I say wanting) at least that many. You may also just need to look at how those radios are distributed too, to see if perhaps it makes more sense to have some of the extras kept in the dispatch room at the station to grab as needed. If you normally have a lot of rigs sitting back at the hall with unused radios in them, that may not be the most efficient use of that resource.

    I can understand if the dept does not want personal radios in use. I know we don't. They are difficult to control, and one loose radio can tie up your net. You may end up having to drop that request.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    You have to list how many radios in your license app with the FCC. Hopefully big brother ain't watching, but how the heck are they going to know 60 or 70 or even 50 or 100????

    You should do a modification of your license to allow however many radios you want need. The only way to do this is to get the actual license holder to apply for the modification. Do you have a current MOU stating what is to be done/ not done?

    As for how many radios??? I don't believe that anyone should have pl tones, repeater inputs just given to them, if they want to go out an find the information fine. I personally don't give the information to line members. Only a few people know where stuff is too (all of our sites are mountaintop and unsecured).

    EVERYONE ON SCENE NEEDS THEIR OWN RADIO! Every FF, EMT ane law person needs to be in communication with their supervisor (in accordance with your established ICS structure)

    Howard

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    What is your FCC call sign?

    There is a # of units limit on the license however it is really not something that you need to worry about. Everyone that is working interior should have a radio on them. If that means having the # of radios = the # of air packs, do it.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    In a perfect world, I honestly believe every seat on a piece of fire apparatus should have a radio. Its a necessary tool in proper communication among all firefighters. All too often you hear about a situation of pairs getting split up and one of them has comm and the other doesn't, but because they were a team, they only needed one radio.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrentonFF
    In a perfect world, I honestly believe every seat on a piece of fire apparatus should have a radio. Its a necessary tool in proper communication among all firefighters. All too often you hear about a situation of pairs getting split up and one of them has comm and the other doesn't, but because they were a team, they only needed one radio.
    Absolutely!! Ideally every person working at the fire scene should have a radio. The only way to ensure that is to issue everyone a radio, or I would say have one for every air pack. Were I used to volunteer, we carried 2-3 more complete SCBA's than we had seatbelted positions in case someone made the scene after all the fire apparatus cleared the house. In that instance you could have more personnel on the scene with airpacks as opposed to available seats on the apparatus. Make sense??

    Bottom line, a radio should be considered part of your turnout gear. Every bit as important as your coat, pants, or helmet!!
    RK
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    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a
    Absolutely!! Ideally every person working at the fire scene should have a radio. The only way to ensure that is to issue everyone a radio, or I would say have one for every air pack. Were I used to volunteer, we carried 2-3 more complete SCBA's than we had seatbelted positions in case someone made the scene after all the fire apparatus cleared the house. In that instance you could have more personnel on the scene with airpacks as opposed to available seats on the apparatus. Make sense??

    Bottom line, a radio should be considered part of your turnout gear. Every bit as important as your coat, pants, or helmet!!
    I concur with Memphis E34. We have a radio for every assigned seat on the apparatus, as well as extra radios for details and to hand to mutual aid company commanders when they respond to our community to cover or to the fire.

    Everyone has to remember to pass the radios on to the next duty shift and keep the radios in the trickle chargers when not in use! A radio that does not work is not a radio... it's a brick!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Everyone on my department is issued a radio when they start the department. They are also issued either a minitor or an alpha-numeric pager. We don't keep radios on our apparatus. It is each individuals responsibility to carry their assiged radio with them when they are at the station or whatever. I also agree with others that EVERYONE should have a radio.

    What if they are split and get in trouble? Their PASS goes off but as everyone else knows, it has become the car alarm of the fire service. It may be heard but go unnoticed until it keeps going off for a while. But if he has a radio he could of possibly radioed help.

    My department also has a lot of BS radio traffic between chiefs and captains and everyone else. Just comes with the territory of having radios.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LRFPD60
    My department also has a lot of BS radio traffic between chiefs and captains and everyone else. Just comes with the territory of having radios.
    This is where we have adopted a different protocol to deal with this. I don't agree that it just "comes with the territory".

    Our dept is small (25 members), and only the 6 officers are issued radios. The rest are left on the engine and quint, with a couple on the shelf at the hall in case additional support units roll, or folks show up late. We don't keep portables in the tender/wildland unit or service truck, but they do all have mobile radios mounted in them.

    The single biggest problems we had when we issued radios to everyone was too much useless chatter, and guys showing up to calls either without thier radio, or with a dead battery. We don't yet have a good supply of spare batteries, but that is also slowly being worked on. Losing or destroying radios entirely was a rare, but periodic concern as well.

    With our current system, we have yet to encounter a call where every FF didn't end up with a radio before commencing ops, and we can pretty well guarantee that all thier radios are charged and ready to go.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    Many places, have one for each riding position on the apparatus. The radios stay in the trucks when there isn't a call.
    ------------------------------------
    These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
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  11. #11
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    Because we cant quite afford to give everyman a proper radio, we sometimes use small UHF radios bought from the local electrical supplier. They only cost about 50 bucks each and they use a civilian channel, however 99% of the time we can get the channel freed up by just saying 'This is the X fire brigade, we are currently using this channel for supplementary communications, we request ask that everyone makes this channel clear for us.' It may be a flawed method, but it works the majority of the time.

    Note: we only use this radios for talk between single crews and we dont rely on them WHATSOEVER. Never rely on them because it just takes on civilian to have his push to talk button down and no one can redirect the channel to move to. It is only used for the nozzleman to tell the pump operator to turn the pressure up, etc... Crews still get proper portables, but its not one per person unfortunately.

    Note 2: This is a volunteer bush fire brigade, so its good enough for us, its just my 2 cents
    "There are only two things that i know are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. And im not so sure about the former."

    For all the life of me, i cant see a firefighter going to hell. At least not for very long. We would end up putting out all the fires and annoying the devil too much.

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    im pretty sure NFPA mandats that all fire personal operating in a hot zone must have a radio. My chief tried to pull something like, if your not an officer you have no business with a radio, but i shut him up saying if im in a burning building i bring what i want to keep me alive. Like to see what he would say if a guy was in a fire with no radio cuz the chief told him he can't have one, then the guy gets lost inside, how can he get help???????

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    Quote Originally Posted by njbravest
    im pretty sure NFPA mandats that all fire personal operating in a hot zone must have a radio.
    If this is true, I would REALLY love to know which standard it is located in. Our county is in the process of upgrading radio systems from VHF Low Band to VHF High Band and, although this has been a issue for years before the upgrade, there is some very interesting *discussion* regarding how many portables should be in the field and who should have them. I guess you can tell by my request which side of the debate I'm on

    One of the biggest arguments against portables is (as others have mentioned also) is all the excess radio chatter they breed. Our dispatch center only has 2 (sometimes 3 w/ trainee's or in daylight hours) dispatchers per shift. They are taking 911 calls, Non-Emergency calls into the Sheriffs office, walk-up questions in the sheriffs office and have radio communications duties with:
    4 Sheriffs Road Deputies, 3 Town Police Officers, 2 State Police Officers, 1 to 3 Animal Control Officers, 1 to 3 Game Wardens, 2-4 Bailiffs when court is in session, 1-3 officers assigned to the jail, 10 Jurisdictional and 3 Non-jurisdictional Fire Departments and 8 Jurisdictional and 2 Non-Jurisdictional EMS agencies. Needless to say that the last thing they want/need to hear is 15 to 20 portables marking en-route to stations or scenes as well as having to overhear all the talk from Bubba to Jim Bob about picking him up as they come by Sam Druckers Store (don't laugh - it happens and I cringe every time I hear it!)

    Granted a lion's share of the problem *could* be handled by a good SOP and enforcement of said SOP but that's another story.
    Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless
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    Quote Originally Posted by N2DFire
    If this is true, I would REALLY love to know which standard it is located in. Our county is in the process of upgrading radio systems from VHF Low Band to VHF High Band and, although this has been a issue for years before the upgrade, there is some very interesting *discussion* regarding how many portables should be in the field and who should have them. I guess you can tell by my request which side of the debate I'm on

    One of the biggest arguments against portables is (as others have mentioned also) is all the excess radio chatter they breed. Our dispatch center only has 2 (sometimes 3 w/ trainee's or in daylight hours) dispatchers per shift. They are taking 911 calls, Non-Emergency calls into the Sheriffs office, walk-up questions in the sheriffs office and have radio communications duties with:
    4 Sheriffs Road Deputies, 3 Town Police Officers, 2 State Police Officers, 1 to 3 Animal Control Officers, 1 to 3 Game Wardens, 2-4 Bailiffs when court is in session, 1-3 officers assigned to the jail, 10 Jurisdictional and 3 Non-jurisdictional Fire Departments and 8 Jurisdictional and 2 Non-Jurisdictional EMS agencies. Needless to say that the last thing they want/need to hear is 15 to 20 portables marking en-route to stations or scenes as well as having to overhear all the talk from Bubba to Jim Bob about picking him up as they come by Sam Druckers Store (don't laugh - it happens and I cringe every time I hear it!)

    Granted a lion's share of the problem *could* be handled by a good SOP and enforcement of said SOP but that's another story.

    NFPA 1221 is the standard that addresses communication systems. As far as dispatch being short staffed.... They shouldn't be listening to your fire ground tac channels, and that is where you should be using your portables. Only your IC should be talking to dispatch (or their designee).

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a
    Bottom line, a radio should be considered part of your turnout gear. Every bit as important as your coat, pants, or helmet!!
    Ditto. We have a portable radio for every seat on the rigs. Each staff officer has one as well.
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    One of the biggest arguments against portables is (as others have mentioned also) is all the excess radio chatter they breed. Our dispatch center only has 2 (sometimes 3 w/ trainee's or in daylight hours) dispatchers per shift. They are taking 911 calls, Non-Emergency calls into the Sheriffs office, walk-up questions in the sheriffs office and have radio communications duties with:
    We have a systen that dispatches us on low band and once on scene, we switch over to our own high band portables. The OIC monitors both frequencies and has the ability(as do all our officers), to communicate with the dispatchers when needed.

    The portables are great for on scene operations(we are the only ones on these channels) and cuts down on the dispatcher having to listen to useless chatter.

    The portables are also set up so that if need be, (in a mayday situation) the FF using the portable can reach our dispatchers on low band through a repeater system we have in place. This is the only time that someone other than an officer is permitted to talk to the dispatchers directly.

    We have one portable per riding position, as well.

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    On my department,we have to earn our radios.Once we've completed the in house training and are on the way to getting the 150 required hours,we get a pager to let us know when the tones drop but we have to wait until two ways come available.
    A few have gotten radios on their own hook though.
    With that in mind,the one thing to remember with everyone in a 40 member department is to keep the airwaves clear unless you have something to say that the IC or other officer needs to know right effing now.Then you ID yourself,ID who you need to speak to,say your message and unkey the mike before a Mayday goes out.It isn't necessary to ask your brother in law if your neice's cold is cleared up,like someone did the other day.
    With our county,just one or two people responding after the tones is enough for Central Dispatch to understand we're on our way.There's really no need for everyone to call out "Number,going to the station."when the officer and driver have responded by radio.

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    You know all you guys have to do to eliminate useless chatter is create an S.O.P. and enforce it. If guys are screwin around on the radio they end up with a write-up. No more problem.

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    I agree with enforcing the SOP's. With a good solid SOG that clearly states what will and what will not be transmitted and who will and who won't transmit I think personal portables could work very well. Then again if the Officers won't enforce the SOG then it's worthless.

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    Exactly. I mean our Chief(s) are one of the biggest issue when it comes to the chatter on the radios. They are the top dogs. If they themselves are doing this then why should they enforce an SOP that will prevent themselves from doing something? I mean 90% of our firefighters do not just get on to get on. If they are on the air asking for a particular firefighter it is due to them not being able to get a hold of that person via phone or pager.

    It is not practical for my department to mount radios on every piece of apparatus. We are a combination department with live-ins in 3 stations. We have only a handful of volunteers that respond POV the rest don't even show up unless its a large house fire, and that is rare. We also have SOP's that only certain trucks are taken in certain situations. Maybe I am looking at this wrong but for my department, and county, it is easier for every member to be issued a radio. Plus our radios were all received with a county wide grant and EVERY county firefighter is issued one.
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    Again, i don't care what a chief says, " i can't have a radio", well then the chief can go fight the fire and get in trouble and need help, so he can try to call one of us who isn't allowed to have a radio, see what kind of help he would get. I understand that some Depts. can't afford radios for everyone, but aleast try to cover each seat with a scba with a radio. Like i said, im taking a radio in with me on a job. Thats my life line.

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    They know.
    I had a my own VHF radios when I worked on the river out of Memphis(Wepfer Marine and Economy Boat Store,E34)and never sent in the application for a license because all I did was communicate with the boat that I was on and the Mates on the tows we were servicing.
    I thought that no one ever noticed until I met my sister's fiancee',an FCC worker, and he knew he'd heard my voice somewhere before and couldn't place it.
    I got to talking about the river and he realized that he'd heard me yammering on various VHF channels and told me that I had been tracked for possible license violations(not having one,not just cussing out my pilots).
    THAT made family gatherings kind of interesting for a while.


    Quote Originally Posted by chtucker
    You have to list how many radios in your license app with the FCC. Hopefully big brother ain't watching, but how the heck are they going to know 60 or 70 or even 50 or 100????


    Howard

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    1 radio for every firefighter is a good number... We issue a readio to every firefighter on the department, its part of the standard issue - we kind of categorize the radio as PPE. Every firefighter is issued full structural ppe, wildland ppe, and a radio. Each turnout gear rack has a charger and the radio is stored with the firefighters PPE. Put on your gear, grab your helmet, grab your radio and head out the door.

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