1. #1
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    Default 07 AFG - Communications

    Greetings all,

    Looking for information from others who may have previously submitted AFG applications for communications equipment. Specifically I would like to know what NFPA Standards, OHSA Regs, etc were references as an aid to help justify the project and or show statutory compliance needs etc... Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Rick Gustad - Chief
    Platte Volunteer Fire Department
    www.plattevfd.com

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    I wrote a grant last year (unsuccessful) to get some portable radios. I read through several of the applicable NFPA standards to see if I could find some reference to support my case, but I really didn't find anything applicable (trying to justify the need for more radios). Don't know what your project is, maybe NFPA has something relevant, but I couldn't find anything to back up my request.

    I also think I was unsuccessful because I want to buy some simple high-band radios to go with our current radio system. The AFG grant is really going to be pushing the interoperability angle (P25 comliance, 700mHz systems, repeater projects etc.) and I don't think my simple request for non P25 equipment was given much weight. (Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather get a bunch of $500 radios than a handful of $2,500 radios that I really don't need). Interoperability is the buzzword, though, if you're going for communications equipment.

    Check with your local radio dealer or do a web search for P25 compliance, maybe you will find some info there to give you some leverage.
    Last edited by dmleblanc; 02-16-2007 at 07:19 AM.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    ALl coomunication equipment MUST be P25 compliant unless waived by your state homeland security plan according to program guidance. See below:

    The intent of the SAFECOM grant guidance is to ensure that the communications equipment being procured will lead to improved multi-disciplinary and/or multi-jurisdictional interoperable public safety communications. The grant guidance provides a list of questions to be answered in order to demonstrate how the applicant’s proposed project would enhance interoperability. The guidance also encourages that, where appropriate, applicants purchase equipment that meets standards that have been developed and adopted by the public safety communications community–American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/TIA/EIAA-102 Phase 1 (Project 25) suite of standards. This recommendation is intended for government-owned or -leased land mobile public safety radio equipment. Its purpose is to make sure that such equipment or systems are capable of interoperability with other public safety land mobile equipment or systems. It is not intended to apply to commercial services that offer other types of interoperability solutions and does not exclude any application if it demonstrates that the system or equipment being proposed will lead to enhanced interoperability. The grant guidance does not propose to preclude funding of non-Project 25 equipment when there are compelling reasons for using other solutions. Absent these compelling reasons, DHS intends that Project 25 equipment will be preferred for digital systems to which the standard applies.


    As you can see, your project almost has to be a "regional" type project unless you were somehow left behind and are the sole holdout to getting onboard with the others in your area. It also pretty much states that your application will be subjected to state review and if they approve the radios requested, they may allow ihem to be non-P25 compliant however; I personally would not run the risk of a rejection. A simple phone call to your state homeland security directors office would save you a lot of grief later.
    Kurt Bradley
    Public Safety Grants Consultant

    "Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    Default radio

    The radios requested would be fully Project 25 compliant and compatible with the State of South Dakota Wide Area Trunked Radio System and would thereby allow complete and seamless interoperability with federal, state and local agencies anywhere in the state. We have just a few handhelds at the moment and need a larger quantity.

    Rick
    Rick Gustad - Chief
    Platte Volunteer Fire Department
    www.plattevfd.com

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    Kurt,

    Thanks for the clarification. Very informative. I knew about the P25 initiative when I submitted the grant application, but quite frankly I felt it would be a waste and would not do anything to address my basic goal of getting more radios in firefighters' hands. My parish is not going to upgrade their system anytime soon, to my knowledge, and it would have been a lot of extra money spent for no real benefit.

    While we're on the subject, let me ask you this...If the state decides to push the interoperability issue, do you think they would require that all local agencies operate all the time on a new band (I'm thinking of the 700mHz public safety spectrum here), or just have the capability to use it should the need arise (which would be extremely rare)? Say, if I were to maintain a small inventory of 700mHz radios for "the big one", but continue to use our current system for day-to-day operations? Anybody have any input on this?
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    NFPA 1710/20, NFPA 1500, OSHA 29 CFR 1910 all have to do with safety of personnel and adequately equipping people for the roles they will be responding in. This includes communications. P25 is the big nut for major communications upgrades, but if the system you operate on isn't and won't be P25 compliant for some time and you need more portables now for fireground communications that's not within the intended scope of P25 large area interoperability anyway since fireground radios are only meant to talk within an incident. Mobiles and base stations have to be, but even on a large scale incident you're not going to have EMS, Fire, and LE on the same channel during operations. That's what IC is for. But you'd still need to ward off the unasked questions to say that our system isn't P25 now, isn't going to be, and this request is to increase the number of handhelds for safe interior operations during routine incidents.

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    Dmleblanc,

    If you are in LA, here is a great source for information on the plans the state has for your interoperability.

    http://siec.louisiana.gov/aboutus.html

    They, better than anyone on here, is going to have the
    actual information about what you need to comply with
    their interoperabilty plans, and what they will let fly for
    grants insofar as interoperablity.

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    Grant app would be to procure mobiles for each apparatus as well as some quantity of handheld radios. The handheld radios need to be P25 as well as we often send crews out of our area to large wildland fire incidents at the states request and the state division of wildland fire uses the P25 system for communications during these incidents, also when working at home it would allow the IC to have a means to communicate with other local, state and federal agencies without having to get in an apparatus.

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    I agree with Brian more radios that can talk to your people equal greater safety.

    If AFG awarded radios will be the only P25s in your parrish for some time, the new radios may actually degrade your communication capabilities. Communication is a two way process, you can talk to yourself without a radio.

    I would recomend explaining in your narrative that P25s are more expensive, and, how they will provide limited communication capibilities when compared to the less expensive items you are requesting based upon your needs.

    P25 is targeted year 2017, I will bet today's radios will be obsolete long before 2017 meaning replacement parts will be unavailable.

    Additionally, look at NFPA 1500 for additional justification for radios.

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    These wouldn't be the only P25 radios in the area. Our state is currently using (and has been since 2003) a Wide Area Trunked Radio system with P25 Digital Voice channels. And yes the more radios we have, the better...but in our situation P25 compliance is a desirable thing.
    Last edited by sdff1520; 02-16-2007 at 02:52 PM. Reason: typo

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    My mistake. If you need P25s, request them. Brian listed several references for justifications and I have used NFPA 1500.

    Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er View Post
    . But you'd still need to ward off the unasked questions to say that our system isn't P25 now, isn't going to be, and this request is to increase the number of handhelds for safe interior operations during routine incidents.
    That's exactly what I tried to explain in my narrative. Of course, they don't actually tell you why you got rejected, I'm just assuming it had something to do with the P25 issue. I wasn't asking for a huge sum ($17,000), so I figured I'd have a pretty decent chance, but no dice.

    LVFD, thanks for the link, I'll check it out.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmleblanc View Post
    Kurt,

    Thanks for the clarification. Very informative. I knew about the P25 initiative when I submitted the grant application, but quite frankly I felt it would be a waste and would not do anything to address my basic goal of getting more radios in firefighters' hands. My parish is not going to upgrade their system anytime soon, to my knowledge, and it would have been a lot of extra money spent for no real benefit.

    Same place we are, like most of rural America. Regular plain of handhelds do everything ever going to need. No problems with overloaded freq. as the next event is way over the horizon. No need for double secret scrambled encoded security. Don't need to talk to AF1 or the space shuttle. Just plain old portables.

    I recently got us 165ea Motorola HT1000s (a great radio) from good ole DOD/FEPP surplus system. Most were AF surplus and in very very good condition. Other from Army or Navy/USMC had some wear. 90% programmed perfectly. Most are even intrensically safe model. A variety of vintage/models (A thru D). All 16 channel, no display.

    Unfortunately most came minus antennas (some knuckhead removed, probably sold on ebay). No batteries obviously as DOD is anal about batteries. We're buying regular batteries/chargers for those that will be daily carry. Others are going in a large County contingency box (mass event) with clamshell battery cases which take AA batteries.

    So for shipping of 50cents each + antenna + battery FD in our county have radios that do anything a rural FD needs. You could obviously buy the same radios on ebay for $150 +/- but why? $ that can be spent elsewhere.

    23ea are available right now, Cherry Point NC. That's jarhead/Navy country so may have been used as a shovel or to stir grey paint. Pretty steady flow of HT1000s are available as DOD blows $ on newer stuff (see also fire service).

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    Imagine that, Roger finding something in FEPP.

    HT1000s were solid radios, pretty firefighter proofed.

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    Default Communications

    We are looking to replace and put in service handhelds, mobiles, and possibly a repeater. Also we want to place head-sets in all apparatus and at their pump panels for hearing protection. Is AFG not a good place for this type of grant. We have 5 handhelds for 20 men. Most of our mobles are still from the crystal age, so narrow-banding is out of the question. Any ideas?

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    Brian

    Correct me if I am wrong, but as long as the communications equipment (handheld, mobile, etc) is up-gradable to P25 standards, you are okay.

    The P25 standardization isn't mandated for a bunch more years. Trying to satisfy the true spirit of that program is creating an interoperability issue in it's self today for those who are applying for the very answer to their communications problem.....interoperability.

    Our Regional grant received in 05 was based soley on wideband/narrowband issues. At that time P25 was addressed, however, as we are dispatched and work closely with the largest of California's fire service agencies, USFS and CDF we followed their role in dealing with interoperability issues. They have not gone to the P25 and it appears that they won't for a long time. Our 439 handhelds and 156 mobiles, which are upgradeable to P25 specifications, will be obsolete by then.

    Regards,

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by SYFIRE View Post
    Brian

    Correct me if I am wrong, but as long as the communications equipment (handheld, mobile, etc) is up-gradable to P25 standards, you are okay.

    The P25 standardization isn't mandated for a bunch more years. Trying to satisfy the true spirit of that program is creating an interoperability issue in it's self today for those who are applying for the very answer to their communications problem.....interoperability.

    Depends on where you are.

    The state has to sign off on your communications grant. If they are
    mandating P25 radios, then you have to get P25 radios. In Missouri
    the radios must be P25, not upgradable but P25 ready. Your
    state may vary.

    P25 radios, conventional on VHF are now at or near the 1k mark, and
    going down even more.

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    It should also be noted, a p25 radio in almost all if not all cases will do conventional analog also.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LVFD301 View Post
    P25 radios, conventional on VHF are now at or near the 1k mark, and going down even more.
    Actually conventional P25 can be purchased for much less than $1,000. You can actually purchase a trunking version for less than $1,000. Conventional only will drop that price several hundred $$$. A Motorola XTS1500 model 1.5 with display, 48 channel capacity and SmartZone or P25 trunking can be purchased for less than $1,000

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmleblanc View Post
    Kurt,

    Thanks for the clarification. Very informative. I knew about the P25 initiative when I submitted the grant application, but quite frankly I felt it would be a waste and would not do anything to address my basic goal of getting more radios in firefighters' hands. My parish is not going to upgrade their system anytime soon, to my knowledge, and it would have been a lot of extra money spent for no real benefit.

    While we're on the subject, let me ask you this...If the state decides to push the interoperability issue, do you think they would require that all local agencies operate all the time on a new band (I'm thinking of the 700mHz public safety spectrum here), or just have the capability to use it should the need arise (which would be extremely rare)? Say, if I were to maintain a small inventory of 700mHz radios for "the big one", but continue to use our current system for day-to-day operations? Anybody have any input on this?

    Start paying attention ot that big $1.7 billion dollar INteroperable Communicatons grnat that is coming down the pike fomr NTIA. Thsi is going to be the place to solve those issues you are describing on a "very lagre" scale. Details still sketchy at this i8tme baout how it will be distributed but, it must go to first repsonder agencies and has to be spent by Spt 07, so not going to be much time. Anyone even remotely thinking of regional type interoperability needs to be formulaaing a good plan right now and have it ready to go when this announces.
    Kurt Bradley
    Public Safety Grants Consultant

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