1. #1
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    Default Turning radio volume off?

    I thought I would ask the other end of the 911 spectrum. I am a FF and we have had a severe problem with dispatch turning down the volume on the radio when we are not on an alarm, or when we are on an alarm. We our the only district in the county that has our own private radio channel, we are also the busiest district dispatched by this 911 center besides the sheriffs office. We have had several problems with calling in walk in alarms and not getting dispatch to answer us, or not answering us when we are on dispatched alarms. When they do they respond its usually with with a "sorry we had the volume off" or sorry "we were talking to PD" or we were on a 911 ( i can understand that one) but i would think this is a great liability and a safety hazard to us especially, when we need priority help and no one on the other end responds, which has occured in the past. Any thoughts or ideas to help??

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    Default I am thoroughly amazed......

    that this is allowed to continue. Non-professional "dispatchers" (yes the quotes are on purpose) that care so little about their job that they don't monitor the radio is a black-eye for those of us that take our CAREER seriously. Not only is it a liability for your department, but it's a major safety issue for you personally. If they truely are on 911 then a slight delay could be acceptable. If they were on another radio, a slight delay (depending on priority) could be acceptable. Radio volume turned down for no apparent reason is NOT ACCEPTABLE in any situation.

    Once my anger at these people subsides I'll check back and offer ideas on resolving the situation.
    the motto of every midnight shift dispatcher - "I'm up - You're up"

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ladder2121
    I thought I would ask the other end of the 911 spectrum. I am a FF and we have had a severe problem with dispatch turning down the volume on the radio when we are not on an alarm, or when we are on an alarm. We our the only district in the county that has our own private radio channel, we are also the busiest district dispatched by this 911 center besides the sheriffs office. We have had several problems with calling in walk in alarms and not getting dispatch to answer us, or not answering us when we are on dispatched alarms. When they do they respond its usually with with a "sorry we had the volume off" or sorry "we were talking to PD" or we were on a 911 ( i can understand that one) but i would think this is a great liability and a safety hazard to us especially, when we need priority help and no one on the other end responds, which has occured in the past. Any thoughts or ideas to help??
    There seems to be some possible training issues. How many dispatchers are on duty at one time?
    Generally if a dispatcher is on a 911 call here, another person will pick the channel til the dispatcher is off the 911.
    We also "multi task" - sometimes because we are short staffed and we have to take a 911 call and answer the radio at the same time! We never turn the volumes down however.

    If I am on the phone with PD or another crew and someone comes up on the radio I tell that person on the phone to "hold on" while I at least respond to the person on the radio.
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    Shawn Stoner
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    Default

    As a supervisor in a unified dispatch center, I have represented my department at the County Fire Officers' Association for many years. From time to time, officers have approached me with general problems. I have developed a very careful response to any complaint, and I also try to bring it up as a reminder at most meetings.

    As a supervisor, I WANT to know when/if there are problems in communications. Unless I am told of a problem, I may not be able to resolve it, and generate a more comfortable working relationship between our departments. But, I need specific information, and I would recommend that you try to follow this guide.

    In order for me (or any other supervisor) to follow up on a problem, we need the date and time, or the address of the incident. Armed with this information, we can search the recordings of radio and phone traffic, and, if necessary, reconstruct the total activity of our center to determine what happened and what could have been done better.

    If we, in communications, are to do our job to the best of our abilities, we sometimes need the help of the personnel in the agencies we serve to help us find "rough spots." Working together, we have, over the years, developed an excellent working relationship with all our Fire Departments (8), First Responders (9) and Law Enforcement Departments (8).

    Please, find a supervisor or administrator who is interested in the development of his/her department and work closely with them to improve communications. If possible, try to work out some kind of ride along program, or invite dispatchers to some training so they can get a better idea of your job and the importance of attentive communications. Also, see about spending some time - a few hours, if possible - "riding" in the dispatch center.

    Further, if you are ever in the La Crosse, WI area, let me know and I'll see to it that you have a chance to visit our center, as well as at least one of the local FDs.

    Good luck, and thanks for your interest in bettering communications.
    Joe O'Keefe

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ladder2121
    I thought I would ask the other end of the 911 spectrum. I am a FF and we have had a severe problem with dispatch turning down the volume on the radio when we are not on an alarm, or when we are on an alarm. We our the only district in the county that has our own private radio channel, we are also the busiest district dispatched by this 911 center besides the sheriffs office. We have had several problems with calling in walk in alarms and not getting dispatch to answer us, or not answering us when we are on dispatched alarms. When they do they respond its usually with with a "sorry we had the volume off" or sorry "we were talking to PD" or we were on a 911 ( i can understand that one) but i would think this is a great liability and a safety hazard to us especially, when we need priority help and no one on the other end responds, which has occured in the past. Any thoughts or ideas to help??
    We have the same problem...after several attemps to correct the problems, we started a timeline plus documented all the issues and informed the sheriffs office (they do the 911 dispatching) if they do not correct the situation we would take to the newspapers and local TV stations. We also informed them that if any of our personel are injuried or god forbid killed due to there failure to respond to us in a timely manner ...we would inform the spouses and family members to file a lawsuit on there behalf. .....Still waiting for a response from the SO
    IACOJ Membership 2002
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    Default Selective Dispatching

    I too have seen, years back, the selective attitudes of local Police and Dispatchers. The problem, though a management attitude, may have to be politically influenced. Turning the volume down is pretty amazing, but no more problematic than any case where they cater to their Police bosses, rather than all Dispatch duties.

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    Default

    Question one... WHY are they turning the volume down when there is nothing going on? If there is no one talking, there is nothing to turn down so what is making them want to lower the volume? Do you not use a PL and you're getting skip?

    Question two... Who is is charge of the console equipment? You can usually program the console to have a minimum volume regardless of turning the knob all the way down.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Default

    Well, everything I would have said has been covered:

    1. Document everything and bring that to the appropriate people.

    2. Program the consoles, if possible, to have the speakers at a certain volume level.

    Alternative to #2: Have the dispatch center create a policy not allowing channels to be turned off/down to a level where it cannot be heard.

    4. Make sure you approach the problem professionally, respectfully and through the chain of command.

    Follow steps 1-4 until the problem is resolved.

    Don't bring this stuff to the newspapers and media and threaten lawsuits, what worse way then to completely ruin any semblance of working things out amicably and professionally. I suppose this could be a last resort, but it means you've completely exhausted every other way of handling this and you've doomed any future problems to having to resort to doing the same thing... Not a place I would choose to work at.

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    Thumbs down you mean this happens other places ?

    I am surprised I missed this until today. We too are dispatched by a "State of the art" center that does PD for 1 township, 1 village and 1 City (us). They do FD/EMS for 1 township that has 2 station and a full time medic unit and chief and 1 city (us again)with one station and a full time chief.

    How we got where we are is of course a LONG story, we (the FD) were excited as we had just overhauled our SOG's and this would allow for a fresh start for us in terms of how we manage dispatch. This center is in the township noted as above and staffed by a third party agency that runs the full time medic unit there. We created a Dispatch Handbook, went to the center when they were doing training and went over the handbook.Crated policies and procedures as well.

    Well.....................needless to say ..............I call them on it when they mess up, gone are the days of old, when nothing happened.One of biggest complaints is that they (admittedly) turn down the radio due to skip. While I understand that listening to skip isnt fun, and it is not my problem we are on a simplex county wide fire band.......I got into a HUGE situation with a dispatcher there about this issue while on stand by at one of commmunities biggest events. Here we are calling and calling .......then call on the phone ....oh ya we had you turned down. It is unreal .......and has happened on more than one occassion. It creates paperwork and I hate to sound threatening .......but sometimes you need to put wording aobut consequences by them not listening to the radio.
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
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    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
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    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    Default

    Having to listen to skip is the fault of the FD or the agency that is in charge of your radios. PL and DPL have been around for decades. There is no excuse for not having it. Whoever refused to program/install the PL on the equipment is at fault for that.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Default

    In regerence to some of the replies and questions asked yes we have PL tones and there is not a skip issue, we were lucky enough to get a frequency that no one remotely close to us uses. We do have a coverage issue with a few dead spots due to the fact that we use a simplex system and have one radio tower for a 100 square mile district Secondly, there is a political issue going on with this current centers dispatchers not wanting to take over our services because we added another 1500 calls a year to there volume. A few years ago the current center we have now started dispatching for us because our old center's director could not get along with our cheif and pulled us from the service because we were paying for it, on a monthly basis.

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    Default

    Our town dispatches for two other fire agencies in neighboring towns. These other towns of course must pay for this service, and dispatch follows their protocol to a "t". Our protocol is completely ignored, even though it is written down for them in detail. They also always have our channel turned down.

    On the other side of the coin, I work for a multi-jurisdictional dispatch agency and must know protocol for seven (7) fire departments, four (4) volunteer ems agencies, one (1) fully paid ems agemcy, and one (1) partially paid ems agency. I take pride in doing my job well and it is frustrating to have to deal with a total lack of concern when operating in the apparatus or on scene.

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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by LJ33FIRE
    On the other side of the coin, I work for a multi-jurisdictional dispatch agency and must know protocol for seven (7) fire departments, four (4) volunteer ems agencies, one (1) fully paid ems agemcy, and one (1) partially paid ems agency. I take pride in doing my job well and it is frustrating to have to deal with a total lack of concern when operating in the apparatus or on scene.
    ......I could not have said it better myself ...............
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire
    Having to listen to skip is the fault of the FD or the agency that is in charge of your radios. PL and DPL have been around for decades. There is no excuse for not having it. Whoever refused to program/install the PL on the equipment is at fault for that.
    We have PL tones and still recieve skip from East Liverpool FD who is over 100 miles away from us.

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    Thumbs down

    Apparently upper-management has never had their lives, or someone else's , in the hands of an incapable dispatcher.
    Our dispatch center used to be in the local city fire department, for both city and county fire and EMS calls. A short time ago, the County purchased a CAD, and moved dispatch to the P.D. This is now "central dispatch" handling all 911 calls-- fire, ems, city and county, and city police.

    The CAD has been programmed, but it is not being utilized for whatever reason. All county emergency traffic takes a backseat to city police, no matter how urgent.
    For example; An ambulance was being requested for a downed firefighter who was in bad shape, but central dispatch would not answer radio. Finally, the city fire dept. answered the call, and self-dispatched. We were advised that the dispatcher was running a plate, and could not be disturbed.

    EMS calls in the county are supposed to be toned simultaneously for city and county volunteers. City is toned first, and only after they are enroute, if she thinks about it, she will tone county department.

    This is definatley a problem that should be re-thought!

  16. #16
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    Default

    Question - do you use this radio channel strictly for dispatch to unit (rig/person) communications, or is every last thing you do on the radio broadcast across the airwaves?

    I'm both a firefighter and a dispatcher, so I can see this situation from both sides. Let me speak as a dispatcher for a moment first.

    My agency dispatches for 30+ in-city stations plus another 14 or so rural stations. There are nine radio channels in my console for those 14 rural stations, and two trunk talkgroups for the 30+ in-city stations. We run a 'one-dispatcher one-calltaker' setup, so, if my calltaking partner is busy, I could be listening to up to 11 different radio conversations at once, not to mention the airport crash alarm, talkback over the station alerting channel, etc.

    Every one of those rural channels, except two, have PL on. One of the two is a half-baked (IMO) trunk system jury-rigged into our console, and the other is a satellite radio which is rarely in reception range of anyone but the FD transmitting (in mountainous conditions). So hearing skip and crosstalk is not something we get often - except on that one satellite channel. I haven't confirmed this, but I believe that the receiver that listens on the department's VHF channel and retransmits over the satellite system has no PL on the receive input, so every trucker who drives past town on the highway with an overpowered CB or a company radio blasts us with 15 minutes of noise and garbage.

    The trunk system I mention above (the rural one, not our city system) is a non-emergency-services-spec business band trunk system that has been somehow patched into the radio consoles so that we see one fire talkgroup as a 'channel' or resource on our screen. Unlike regular trunk systems where you key up and the channel stays open only as long as you're talking, like a normal radio system, this trunk system opens a frequency and locks it open for the duration of the conversation. So any time people aren't talking, there is this gawdawful roar of squelch hash pouring out of the speaker banks. The system will auto-close 10 seconds after the last transmission if the user in the field doesn't close the channel manually (remember, we only see it as a channel - we can't close it), but until then, we have to put up with this deafening noise which drowns out other agencies altogether.

    Lastly, some of the departments in the area either don't have tac channels or secondary repeater channels or don't know how to use them. These departments will CONTINUOUSLY tie up "their" channel with comms that should be on a fireground (simplex) frequency, and other such stuff. In fact there's one on which you can expect to hear firefighters making babysitting and child-care arrangements after you tone them out, so someone will stay in town to watch over all the kids while the others respond to the call.

    I'm not looking for a solution to these issues, and I'm not saying they're what's happening in your area or any other - nor that any of it is a valid reason for not doing their jobs (which is what the case is when dispatchers miss your transmissions or don't answer you - whether that's because their radio is turned down or any other reason). However, knowing what I know about dispatch, I remind folks on my department sometimes - the dispatchers are listening to dozens of channels and conversations, often with all the traffic coming into just one speaker or headphone. They may have people barking out updates and orders from across the room at them too. Just because your radio channel is quiet doesn't mean that Dispatch isn't busy. Give them time to answer, and if no reply is forthcoming, try again.

    Having said all that, if you can see any of your own department in the situations I've described above (with the PL/chatter/etc), that may be why your volume is getting turned down. Is it the right thing for Dispatch to do? No. Is there anything you can do about it? Definitely.
    --jay.

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