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    Default Alphanumeric Pagers

    Guys - I'm wondering if using alphanumeric pagers for our department would prove cheaper than purchasing and continuing to repair Motorola Keynotes and Minitors.

    Anyone have any experience using alphanumeric pagers for your entire department? Any suggested vendors/brands to check into? Any ideas regarding pricing?

    Thanks for any information.

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    check the thread about the guy asking about text messaging through his cell phone. Alpha pagers can't be used as a primary source of being alerted have you tried a different brand of pager like swissphone?

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    We have used alphanumeric pages with great success county wide. County emergency communications (911) dispatches for almost all agencies in the county and they have their own dedicated paging transmitter / tower, etc. Our paging terminal is directly connected to our CAD workstation, so the computer can automatically send out the page for an alarm. We have a mix of paid (staffed) and volunteer (unstaffed) stations throughout the county.

    The manned stations do have lights/horns and the dispatcher announces the call over the radio for them, and the pagers are a backup. The guys there say that usually their pagers go off while the dispatcher is announcing the call, so there is really isn't much delay for the pagers.

    The pagers are the primary alerting methods for us vollies, however there is a hotline/siren system in place for backup, so if we haven't went en-route the dispatcher will ring the hotline and hit the siren to make sure we are aware of the alarm.

    The only problem we have ran into is county wide we are using the old Motorola Advisor pagers and they are getting hard to find parts for. The system does allow for a lot of flexibility that a regular voice paging system doesn't such as individual and group pages, etc.

    If you are looking at alphanumeric pagers, the only way to go IMHO is to purchase your own dedicated transmitter and equipment for the dispatch center. The problem with paging companies and the cell phone text messaging that was mentioned is your page could set in a queue for a while before it is actually sent.
    Last edited by vfdguy; 07-10-2007 at 06:21 PM.

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    I should mention that regardless of whether it is a vollie or paid dept getting dispatched the call is dispatched simultaneously over radio and pager.

    Also, I love the pagers because I can look at the information, cross streets, etc. in the truck without having to memorize it or listen to a voice page again.

    Edit: I just realized I rambled a lot there and never really answered your question. I would image it would be tremendously cheaper to continue repairing/buying Minitors than it would be to put in a new paging terminal/transmitter, interface it with your CAD system, etc.
    Last edited by vfdguy; 07-10-2007 at 06:24 PM.

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    As said above, the only way to get this to work would be to set up your own transmitter, paging system. That can't be cost effective.

    I got rid of my alpha pager because of the delay, sometimes as much as a day. As I said in the other thread, our system was also screwed up because I got a page every time a unit marked up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firefighter2230 View Post
    Alpha pagers can't be used as a primary source of being alerted
    I don't quite agree with that as written, but I agree with the intent.

    Subscription-based alphas are not reliable enough to use as your primary, therefore alphas are generally a bad idea unless you somehow set up a proprietary stand-alone system that operates independently of any existing paging/cell network and is thus not subject to its delays, message volume and unannounced outages. If you had your own network and the resources to maintain and operate it reliably, you could probably use them as a primary source of alerts. However, since they cannot monitor radio traffic, you would need to have dispatchers transcribe radio messages into text and put them out to page for those needing to know but only assigned the alphas. Not very efficient or reliable.

    To set up your own system and make it work well is probably not cost effective compared with maintaining your fleet of voice pagers.
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    New Motorola Minitor V w/1 Ch, stored voice= Approx $400.00

    New Apollo Pilot XP alphanumeric, VHF, 8 capcodes, amplified charger= $150.00, and these are the good ones!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by JTFIRE80 View Post
    New Motorola Minitor V w/1 Ch, stored voice= Approx $400.00

    New Apollo Pilot XP alphanumeric, VHF, 8 capcodes, amplified charger= $150.00, and these are the good ones!!
    I didn't stay at the Holiday Inn Express last night. This is not an area in which I am an expert.

    Are you saying that there are alpha pagers that can be configured to operate at VHF frequencies in normal fire bands? If so, very interesting.

    I know it isn't for everyone, but I still prefer voice notification and the ability to monitor radio traffic as needed - something we could no longer do. This led the department to issue off-duty personnel hand-held scanners capable of monitoring our trunked 800mhz transmissions. We're department-sanctioned whackers!
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElectricHoser View Post
    Are you saying that there are alpha pagers that can be configured to operate at VHF frequencies in normal fire bands? If so, very interesting.
    Yep, in fact, our paging system is on VHF, while our radio system is 800mhz trunking. I might have to check out those Apollo pagers that were mentioned above. It's getting hard to find replacement Motorola Advisors.

    This led the department to issue off-duty personnel hand-held scanners capable of monitoring our trunked 800mhz transmissions. We're department-sanctioned whackers!
    All of our officers are issued portables so they can monitor on their way in, so you guys aren't so bad with the scanners!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firefighter2230 View Post
    Alpha pagers can't be used as a primary source of being alerted
    Thats a pretty bold statement.....Our county protects over 202,000 people with alpha numeric pagers. Its not just fire either...Ambulance, sherriff, ECT. I personally like them better now than voice, although they did take some getting used to

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frmboybuck View Post
    Thats a pretty bold statement.....Our county protects over 202,000 people with alpha numeric pagers. Its not just fire either...Ambulance, sherriff, ECT. I personally like them better now than voice, although they did take some getting used to
    by using the alpha pagers alone?
    Thats how it has always been explained to us is that the alpha pagers since they can have so many problems (delay in getting message, getting no message at all) are not a reliable form of a main means to receive dispatch.
    Last edited by Firefighter2230; 07-12-2007 at 01:18 PM.

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    We have alpha pagers. They're great for sending out notices or paging specific people.
    But for calls?

    We get response checked before our alpha pagers even go off usually.
    Even when they do go off the message looks something like this:

    bEx AorM 4*43 1202 ma#in st/ smdke i the srucutre.

    I know I would not trust them.
    Thank god for voice pagers.

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    We have the Alpha pagers that are conected to the CAD system, as soon as dispatch saves the call as dispatched it goes over the Alpha pages, then they also dispatch as usual over the radio. The biggest benifit so far is being able to look at the address, and cross streets. It saves from a lot of radio traffic asking for the address again. We also use it to put out message and reminder pages.
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    Alpha numeric pagers are better system for us. Our old pager system was costing us more money in parts and repairs, not to mention the static and the short distance they covered. These new pagers are also a great way to get messages out for overtime and other needs that come up.

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    Alpha pagers have worse reception than tone pagers. It's great to be used in conjunction with tone pagers or radio dispatch but to be primary than I would be scared. Service I work for uses radio for primary with alpha pagers sending out the info with anything additional included. Pages can be delayed or scrambled or nothing at all. Reception can be horrible depending on location and nearby interferance.

    Even if a tone pager doesn't work the radio system it's on still should. Whereas if a alpha pager system goes down than somebody is SOL. Solar flares mess up alpha pagers worse than radio systems.
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    Had them..... Used them..... and Hated them!!!!! Switched back to the Minitors

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    Ive never missed a call and never had an issue with them. Our county is on a stand alone system and it works great. Yea, if you get 50 or 60 miles away it aint going to go off but neither is a tone pager in most cases and if you are that far away, you aint making the call anyway.

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    The current paging system we use is no more than 3-5 seconds behind the tones. You can actually read the call before "the voice" starts to speak, so that helps a bit sometimes. VHF system, operates on 154.0250. All voice dispatch will be on VHF within the next year (right now it's a combo of 33.### and 152-154.###.

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    We use AlphaPage in the station to sent out training pages, alerts, ETC...... Its setup to dial our county radio room and hook to their system. After we hit send on our comp, the pager goes off in about 3 seconds. When listening to the radio, sometimes the dispatcher will call a deputy and tell him they have a 10-50,52...whatever in the area and says she is sending out a page now. within seconds our pager is going off. Ours is a stand alone system and I like it better than the tone pagers

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    No thanks, there are hundreds of cheaper places that are closer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firefighter2230 View Post
    Alpha pagers can't be used as a primary source of being alerted


    Sorry, Wrong Answer. Alpha Pagers are what we use totally. NO problems at all. Alpha Pager usually Beeps before the Voice transmission starts. And, they work 50 miles or more beyond the county line. That's the County System, my other pager is with Skytel, and it works wherever I go. Last Weekend I was in Northeast Conn, almost to Mass. and I got all the calls for my station in Maryland with no problems. The Skytel unit is fed by software in the Station Computer. then thru the Skytel system, BUT, it is right on time, NO delays at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    Sorry, Wrong Answer. Alpha Pagers are what we use totally. NO problems at all. Alpha Pager usually Beeps before the Voice transmission starts. And, they work 50 miles or more beyond the county line. That's the County System, my other pager is with Skytel, and it works wherever I go. Last Weekend I was in Northeast Conn, almost to Mass. and I got all the calls for my station in Maryland with no problems. The Skytel unit is fed by software in the Station Computer. then thru the Skytel system, BUT, it is right on time, NO delays at all.
    if you have a good 911 center or system to send the pages with thats a different story. Around here it's gotten better for us over the past little bit but it use to be either getting the alpha page half way through a call or after returning to the station.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firefighter2230 View Post
    if you have a good 911 center or system to send the pages with thats a different story. Around here it's gotten better for us over the past little bit but it use to be either getting the alpha page half way through a call or after returning to the station.

    Our system works on software in the station computer. And it is Instant, every time. Anyone looking for a system should be looking to put it in YOUR STATION computer, not some remote site.
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