1. #1
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    Question Pre-alarm announcments

    I was thinking about this, after reading the "how are you alerted/how does it come across the scanner" thread. How many dispatch centers give a pre-alarm announcment?

    Our dispatch goes kinda like this:

    "KC: "Station 55 you have an alarm"

    Tones drop for the station

    KC "Station 55, medic 67, medic 65 for notification, trooper 2(or 4) is bieng alerted, an MVC with rollover (or entrapment, etc.) Bay Road, between False street and Fake street, 0954"

    Im just wondering how many other dipatch centers do that pre-alarm announcement (ex. KC: "Station 55 you have an alarm")

    Also, if you have it, do you like it?

    Our county dispatch recently switched back to doing it after about a year of not doing it and just dropping tones.
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    We have it, with a little different procedure...

    Dispatches start with a pre-alert, such as (I'm doing this for a structure fire at my station address, just for demonstration):

    [Long alert tone] Cumru Township, 453 Church Road, a structure fire, 1305

    Then, pager tones and full dispatch:

    [Pager tones] Company 42, Engine 67, Ladder 57, Cumru Township, 453 Church Road, cross streets of Welsh Road and Reed Street, a structure fire, 1307

    Then, siren tones (if any) and a repeat of the dispatch, the time.

    In this day and age, the prealert is of marginal usefullness. Years ago, the dispatchers would put out the prealert before looking up the run cards, punching in the tone codes, etc. There could be a few minutes between prealert and dispatch, during which time anyone who was monitoring could already be responding. With the equipment and systems we have today, with the CAD putting everything right up on the dispatcher's screen, the prealert really makes little difference. How long the county will continue to use it "because it's always been there" is anybody's guess.
    Last edited by bobsnyder; 10-30-2006 at 03:53 PM.

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    Question

    Maybe a new guy question but here we go:

    Why do they even have a "pre" announcment?

    All we get are tones and away you go. Now that is a small volunteer department but I wonder why you warning for tones. Does that just pad your time from when you are tone to enroute times?

    We get our departments tones and the comm center says what type of run it is, we still use signal codes (or whatever thsey are called)

    "Paging for XXXX fire we have a report of a grass fire at XXXXX or please respond to a signal 19 at XXXX"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stewart46
    Why do they even have a "pre" announcment?
    Like I said in my post, it was put into our radio SOP decades ago when the dispatcher had to take the phone call him/herself, then physically look up the response on a paper run card in a Roladex, then program each pager tone sequence into the console and transmit them (one set at a time), then do the verbal dispatch. That process could take several minutes, so they inserted a prealert right after the phone call to alert anybody who was listening to the dispatch channel and speed up response.

    As I also said...in the modern world, CAD systems, pre-programmed dispatch consoles, etc. make the prealert really a leftover from the past. It doesn't really hurt anything, but it doesn't help much, either.

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    I have heard some of our neighboring departments transmissions and theirs is something along the lines of "stand by for tones" and then the rest. Kind of like having the alarm clock go off before the time you really want to get up.

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    Negative on the prealert here. Just the good ol' tones. Once they drop, the dispatcher tells us where to go.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stewart46

    Why do they even have a "pre" announcment?



    "Paging for XXXX fire we have a report of a grass fire at XXXXX or please respond to a signal 19 at XXXX"
    Ussually the dispatcher makes the pre-announcement while the call is bieng taken (for medicals). For fire, it alerts those of us who are monitering that we have a call, and if we are at the station, it comes across the radios so we have a bit of warning, so that the big siren right over our heads dosent suprise the sh!it out of us. For about a year all we got was tones, and then they switched back. I personally kind of like it, im a whacker (j/k ) and ussually have my pager on scan.

    PS We are a small volunteer department as well, and the dispatch center is for the whole county, minus the city and the airbase.


    On another note, do they really say all that in the dispatch? We get very little info in the dispatch, and once a unit responds, they give that unit all the info they have.
    Do a little dance, make a little rum, Italian Ice! Italian Ice!

    Actual lyric: Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight, get down tonight.
    (KC & The Sunshine Band "Do A Little Dance")

    My thoughts are mine alone and do not represent the thoughts of any Organization to which I am affiliated.

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    We don't really have a pre-alert, but if you listen to the scanner, you can hear the PD dispatcher alerting the PD while the FD dispatcher is still on the phone with the RP.

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    We don't have a pre alert tone, but usually while on dispatcher is on the phone with the caller, the second dispatcher will announce over the P.A. system that we have a call. It's nice to get that warning at night before the lights come on in the dorm and the alarm sounds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFRDxplorer
    Negative on the prealert here. Just the good ol' tones. Once they drop, the dispatcher tells us where to go.

    Same here.

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    Well im gonna have to tell ya that we dont even get toned out. They just say XXXXX Fire we have a stucture fire in the 500 block of Washington Street.

    We are also volunteer so we all drive to the scene and the guys that live the closest get the trucks. Pretty simple.

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    Quote Originally Posted by American20
    Well im gonna have to tell ya that we dont even get toned out. They just say XXXXX Fire we have a stucture fire in the 500 block of Washington Street.

    We are also volunteer so we all drive to the scene and the guys that live the closest get the trucks. Pretty simple.
    So you don't have any type of pager at all how in the world does that work at night?

    A neighboring county dispatches like central to station/stations whatever report of a (incident type) and give a location.

    We still have a siren so most of the time we can pick out our siren tone and start to get ready however thats nothing to give a great advantage since the pager tones follow shortly after.

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    Why do they even have a "pre" announcment?

    Now that is a small volunteer department but I wonder why you warning for tones. Does that just pad your time from when you are tone to enroute times?
    Bingo. Combination dept here...the pre-alerts give the paid guys a few extra seconds to start getting ready, locking up the station, looking at maps if out of first-due, etc., before the "chute" time starts running (you have 2 mins from dispatch to "enroute" before a re-tone).

    Pre-alerts are only done during "normal waking hours", typically 0800-2100, after that time they figure (correctly) most of the stations have turned their station radios and pagers to standby-alert mode by 2100.

    Pre-alerts around here are really simple:
    *three short beeps* (same as LE "priority traffic" tone in our county)
    "Highway 41 at Highway 198, report of an injury traffic accident, single-vehicle rollover."

    Then the station tones and the normal dispatch rigamarole.

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    yea we get a "pre-alarm" warning, usually just the company being dispatched and whether its fire/squad

    ex.: on the county fire frequency you will here:

    "45 fire alert"

    [tones followed by dispatch message]

    just replace 45 with any other company number in the county and thats how ours works.
    NJ FFII/EMT-B

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    Affirmative on the pre-alarm announcement. Our dispatch usually goes something like this -- Stand by for a Central City Fire (other agencies if needed) alert. *tones* Central City Fire needed to respond...
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    Ours go like this. ( this is all theoretical)

    Tones drop for department, pager goes off
    so: District 15, District 15 Almaville
    need units en route to 1234 Almaville Road
    1234 Almaville Road, got A report of a structure fire
    Complaintent advises heavy smoke and structure looks to be fully involved.

    Then units check en route to the station. etc etc

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbonetrexler
    On another note, do they really say all that in the dispatch? We get very little info in the dispatch, and once a unit responds, they give that unit all the info they have.
    I'm not sure if this was directed to me or Stewart46, but I'll answer...yes, that's the kind of information commonly given at dispatch. When the first unit and/or officer from the home jurisdiction reports they're responding, dispatch will give any additional information they might have.

    This could be something like...

    "Berks, Engine 42 & 42-14 responding, 453 Church Road, crew of four"

    "OK, Engine 42 & 42-14 responding at 1309. 42-14, we have multiple calls reporting flames from the second floor and one from the occupant reporting everyone is out of the building."

    Or, if they had nothing else, it might just be something like:

    "OK, Engine 42 & 42-14 responding at 1309. One call, no additional."

    If the dispatcher is really on the ball, after they give the "flames showing, etc...", they may also ask if they should go ahead with the working fire response and if the officer wanted a specific fireground frequency, as in:

    "42-14, you have Station 85 RIT and EMS for a working fire, would you like them awhile and would you like F-2 for the fireground?"

    More often than not, however, they'll just wait for the officer to ask.

    It's a bit of traffic, but it does give a pretty good idea of what you're getting into well ahead of arrival, at least most of the time.
    Last edited by bobsnyder; 10-31-2006 at 03:18 PM.

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    Some dispatchers in our town pre-announce, some don't. They usually pre-announce to give time for the sirens to call up, alert PD if nessecary, or take more info from the caller. Seems alittle redundant to me, but hey, I'm not an EMD, what do I know.

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    Why pre announce?


    Just hit the tones and give the location and assignment of companies that are going and get out of the house.
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    Default Tones

    The way we get toned out in our department is toned then they either say XXXX first responders assist XXXX ambulance with a Signal 19 at 123 Hooterville Rd reported chest pain. Sometimes we don't get the type of call until we ask. For fire rescue calls it is XXX fire respond to 123 Hooterville Rd for a signal 82 rollover. Again we may or may not get anymore than that without asking. Fires are usually address and type of fire, and more info if we ask.

    The bad thing is usually it is not the same more than once, in the middle of the night all I am worried about is getting dressed, out the door and getting to the fire house. The last thing I need it to be trying to write down the particulars. I am not the first guy at the house normally but I get the location and type of call before I get on the truck. Kind of bad to not know where you are going or what you need to do when you get there!

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    No Prealerts here only tones and dispacther telling what the situation is.

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    No pre alert at my department. Goes just like this

    [Company Tones] Engine 1, Truck 2, Medic 1, Battalion 1. Structure fire, 1073 North Broadway. 1073 North Broadway. Caller reports that they are trapped on a floor above the fire with multiple people. Please respond.". Then any other info we need is given to us on the radios as we roll to the call.

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    We don't have one. Pager tones, siren tones, message.

    The neighboring county to the north makes an announcement before sending the tones "Central Dispatch on the air for Station 39 with a Medical". Gives them a heads up if their pager is open, etc.

    The neighboring career dept. also has a pre-alert. It's a series of three beeps and then the squelch on the radio opens. This is on an 800 trunked system so there are no seperate pager-type tones for each station.

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    no pre-alert here, unless you have a scanner and hear our public safety dispatchers dispatching the PD before the FD to a fire

    just goes.. tones: stations 5,4,3 and rescue 4 respond to 55 Fake street for a reported structure fire

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    No pre-alerts but in the middle of the night all our guys are instructed not to answer the radio until she pages a second time. It saves making her repeat locations and gives you a minute to get woke up at 3 AM.

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