1. #76
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    I think that if budget allows then every seasoned firefighter should have a radio. I don't think that new people or probationary fire fighters need one if they are not allowed to do interior attack then they really don't need a radio, so radio's should be given out to members of the FD who are cleared for interior operations. If budget doesn't allow this then have certain number of radios on the trucks and require that only the people who are in the immediate hot zone take a radio.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Ken ..

    I don't put radios in the same catagory as SCBA's, but you very well might be right.

    In terms of basic firefighting protective equipment, I would rank the needs as follows:

    1. Servicable gear including Hood.
    2. Sufficiant Current SCBA for all interior and roof personnel.
    3. PASS devices for all SCBA.
    4. Radios for all riding positions.
    5. Radios for all members on the fireground.
    6. Bailout equipment for departments who routinly operate in 3+ stroy buildings.

    I don't see how you can address #4 and #5 until you have addesssed 1,2 and 3. There are thousands of departments that struggle with the basics of 1-3 everyday. There is simply no way that you can say a radio is more important than gear, current SCBA and PASS devices. I think it's a fair statement to say that most, if not all, would agree with that.

    In the cases of those departments that are able to provide the basics in personal protective equipment to thier members, and can afford to purchase radios for all members, they should be purchased.

    My point is that there are thousands of departments where the funds are simply not available and that is not a realistic option.
    I'm not going to get into the whole hypocricy issue.

    I will say that I find the above post, viewed in isolation, pretty well irrefutable.

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    One thing I haven't heard anyone answer is how much gear do we need? I suggested that Radios are essential and we should not accept "they cost too much" as a reason for not having radios. There have been a number of responses identifying gear which is important for firefighting, and several which have posted a hierarchy of importance. Where do we draw the line on what is and is not essential?

    For example, turnout gear was listed as item #1. If we cannot afford turnout gear, do we still go in?

    SCBAs as item #2. If we cannot afford SCBAs, do we still go in?

    Why is it that we get to Radios, and we can suddenly draw a magic line in the sand that they are too expensive? That it is acceptable to go without, if you cannot afford them? And if that is the conclusion being drawn, what equipment is essential? What can we not do without? How do you make that justification or distinction?

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    Quote Originally Posted by LawFires View Post
    One thing I haven't heard anyone answer is how much gear do we need? I suggested that Radios are essential and we should not accept "they cost too much" as a reason for not having radios. There have been a number of responses identifying gear which is important for firefighting, and several which have posted a hierarchy of importance. Where do we draw the line on what is and is not essential?

    For example, turnout gear was listed as item #1. If we cannot afford turnout gear, do we still go in?

    SCBAs as item #2. If we cannot afford SCBAs, do we still go in?

    Why is it that we get to Radios, and we can suddenly draw a magic line in the sand that they are too expensive? That it is acceptable to go without, if you cannot afford them? And if that is the conclusion being drawn, what equipment is essential? What can we not do without? How do you make that justification or distinction?
    Good questions.. But I think it's a rather easy thing to justify the difference.

    If you do not have PPE and an SCBA in almost all cases, you will die or suffer serious injury if you are doing an interior fire attack these days.

    However, in most cases (read as >98%) of fires if you don't have a radio, you can function fine and not have an injury or death. Doesn't mean it's a good idea, but is it a deal breaker? No. In fact, most firefighters are doing it day in and day out.

    Also, there are other means of communication. Activate your pass, tell your buddy (if you are sharing a radio), relying on air horns...etc.

    FOR THE RECORD> I'm not advocating the above in place of radios, merely answering your question.

    I would hate for the fire service to decide not to enter a structure fire because they don't have a radio... however, they should NOT enter without PPE and SCBA (that is a deal breaker).
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by quint1officer View Post
    Ours don't. Our dispatch doesn't have the capability to interact with them, so all they do is make a siren noise when you hit them. For those that use them, do they utilize a separate freq to id to your dispatch? We only have 1 monitored freq, so we didn't want to tie it up with a beacon that can't be acknowledged.

    When the button is depressed the radio id pops up on the screen indicating an emergency and that unit needs help ASAP. For example you are inside fighting a house fire and you become disoriented and need the RIT team to get you. By activating the button the radio id appears and the dispatcher who is monitoring the channel SHOULD transmit an alert tone to get everyone's attention and stop all operations until the unit that transmitted the emergency is contacted then operations to handle that emergency proceed or if it is accidental the radio is turned off then on to clear the emergency and operations continue. That is basically how it works with those orange buttons. I hope this helps ya out a bit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LawFires View Post
    For example, turnout gear was listed as item #1. If we cannot afford turnout gear, do we still go in?

    SCBAs as item #2. If we cannot afford SCBAs, do we still go in?

    Why is it that we get to Radios, and we can suddenly draw a magic line in the sand that they are too expensive?
    Easy. I can still breathe and not burn to death if I don't have a radio.
    There's only one firefighter on the fire ground w/out PPE and SCBA.. his name is IC.
    So you call this your free country
    Tell me why it costs so much to live
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    Congratulations. You just showed us how little you really know about the fire service. Do you even make an aggressive interior attack? Or is it just Lts. and above doing the fire attacks? What happens if you do down? I take it you didn't hear about the PASS malfunctions and low volume levels. If I hear a PASS going off, WHY is that Brother down? Is he unconscious? Out of air? Entangled? Is his partner down? Under something that collapsed on him? What happens if I loose water pressure? Yank 3 times for higher pressure? Or was that 3 times for lower pressure? Oh shoot, I forget.
    No, wait, lemme bust out my Nextel, and beep beep the Chauffer and tell him to raise the pressure.
    You don't give a radio to every member. You assign a radio to each seat or pack.
    Your problem is DISCIPLINE, and TRAINING.
    I suggest reading some NIOSH reports that state that radios, and lack of mics for radios has been a contributing cause of some LODDs.
    If you fail to do that, may I suggest a dept sponsored burial plot? Cause if you buy early, you get savings.....

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    Default Every Firefighter should not have a radio

    I have been reading through this thread, and I realize it is old, however there is no reason why every firefighter should have a radio. You talk about interior firefighters needing radios, well that is what their PASS is for. Every interior firefighter should have one of those. Radio's are abused in my area, and according to our dispatcher only people who are Lieutenants and above can carry and talk on one. Dispatchers do not care how many portables are responding to scenes. They really care about the chief and assistant chief, and then trucks. If you want every firefighter to be able to communicate then I suggest making phone number lists. Also on the not of All Calls, where a scene has gotten big, and more personnel are needed then I suggest Alpha numeric pagers. They hook up to a computer, and you can set up page lists. Even some dispatch centers can be equipped so that dispatch can page for a crew to respond to quarters when all the crews on duty are out.

    I personally have a portable, because I am an EMT that gets put on call all the time. I am allowed to use it whenever I want. I have signed on to dispatch about three times since I got it months ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghostrider157 View Post
    I have been reading through this thread, and I realize it is old, however there is no reason why every firefighter should have a radio. You talk about interior firefighters needing radios, well that is what their PASS is for. Every interior firefighter should have one of those. Radio's are abused in my area, and according to our dispatcher only people who are Lieutenants and above can carry and talk on one.
    You are blaming technology for a training and discipline problem.

    So if, by your way of thinking, firefighters were activating their pass and abusing it, we should eliminate them?

    PASS is for emergencies, radios will hopefully help you avoid emergencies.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghostrider157 View Post
    I have been reading through this thread, and I realize it is old, however there is no reason why every firefighter should have a radio. You talk about interior firefighters needing radios, well that is what their PASS is for. Every interior firefighter should have one of those. Radio's are abused in my area, and according to our dispatcher only people who are Lieutenants and above can carry and talk on one. Dispatchers do not care how many portables are responding to scenes. They really care about the chief and assistant chief, and then trucks. If you want every firefighter to be able to communicate then I suggest making phone number lists. Also on the not of All Calls, where a scene has gotten big, and more personnel are needed then I suggest Alpha numeric pagers. They hook up to a computer, and you can set up page lists. Even some dispatch centers can be equipped so that dispatch can page for a crew to respond to quarters when all the crews on duty are out.

    I personally have a portable, because I am an EMT that gets put on call all the time. I am allowed to use it whenever I want. I have signed on to dispatch about three times since I got it months ago.
    I read your post twice and my first reaction was what the frack?



    You don't get the concept at all.

    Every firefighter having a radio means a radio at every position on the rig, not each and every firefighter having his or her own portable radio.

    PASS devices are not communications devices.

    PASS devices cannot communicate orders from the incident commander to the firefighters operating on the roof or inside on a hose line.

    PASS devices can't relay information about deteriorating conditions inside or outside of a burning building.

    Portable radios have emergency buttons that can be monitored by dispatch to let them know which firefighter is in trouble, so the IC can clear the channel and communicate directly with the member and direct the RIt tream to their location.

    If the radios are "abused" in your area, it's time for your FD's administration to set up SOP's for radio communications.

    Phone lists? What a novel concept! By the time you get through the list, the building that was burning is now a smouldering pile of rubble inside of a foundation.

    Alphanumeric pagers? Great for alerting personnel that there is an incident that requires a response, assuming that there is service in your area.

    PS: FD's large and small, career and volunteer have been using alphanumeric paging systems for years to contact personnel for a variety of reasons.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 03-01-2008 at 10:04 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghostrider157 View Post
    Radio's are abused in my area, and according to our dispatcher only people who are Lieutenants and above can carry and talk on one. Dispatchers do not care how many portables are responding to scenes. They really care about the chief and assistant chief, and then trucks. If you want every firefighter to be able to communicate then I suggest making phone number lists.
    I agree that radio discipline is a training issue that needs to be addressed if it is a problem.

    If all you have in your area are extremely small houses where you can see in every window then maybe some members can do without a radio. If your dept. has to make an interior attack on a sizeable structure let's hope you don't ever get separated from your officer and are unable to find your way out. I would rather be able to let somebody know my situation and my approximate location while I'm looking for a way out instead of just activating my PASS and hoping somebody can find me.

    Are there times when some members operate independently of officers? What if they need to communicate with command? Run to the command post or find someone with a radio and do a face-to-face? What if they can't?

    I realize that not all depts. can afford it but radios for every riding position are extremely beneficial and should be a high priority.

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    i think every firefighter on the fire ground should have one if they see something that IC doesn't they can report it faster

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    Gonz, I agree with everything you said. Especially the part about "What the frack"
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Radio's are abused in my area, and according to our dispatcher only people who are Lieutenants and above can carry and talk on one.
    So.. the dispatchers run the Department?

    No wonder it's fracked.
    ‎"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."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghostrider157 View Post
    I have been reading through this thread, and I realize it is old, however there is no reason why every firefighter should have a radio. You talk about interior firefighters needing radios, well that is what their PASS is for. Every interior firefighter should have one of those. Radio's are abused in my area, and according to our dispatcher only people who are Lieutenants and above can carry and talk on one. Dispatchers do not care how many portables are responding to scenes. They really care about the chief and assistant chief, and then trucks. If you want every firefighter to be able to communicate then I suggest making phone number lists. Also on the not of All Calls, where a scene has gotten big, and more personnel are needed then I suggest Alpha numeric pagers. They hook up to a computer, and you can set up page lists. Even some dispatch centers can be equipped so that dispatch can page for a crew to respond to quarters when all the crews on duty are out.

    I personally have a portable, because I am an EMT that gets put on call all the time. I am allowed to use it whenever I want. I have signed on to dispatch about three times since I got it months ago.
    Good thing his PASS alarm worked, huh.

    Dr. Harry M. Archer Medal
    Firefighter James F. Mills, Ladder Company 176

    March 4, 2003, 2150 hours, Box 55-1658, 1636 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn

    Appointed to the FDNY on May 9, 1993. Brother is FF Richard Mills, Jr., Engine 248; father is retired Captain Richard Mills, Sr., Ladder 166; and uncle is retired Deputy Chief Joseph Mills, Division 3. Member of the Emerald and Holy Name Societies. Cited for bravery once previously. Resides in Sayville, Long Island, with his wife, Susan, and their son, Griffin, and daughters, Taylor and Madison.

    Pitkin Avenue is a major shopping street in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. Among the renovations are alterations to these nearly hundred-year-old buildings. With the turmoil of the ‘60s and ‘70s, many of the building owners took drastic measures to ensure security. Many of these modifications have remained in place. Any veteran Firefighter who worked in that area will say, “A job on Pitkin Avenue is never easy.”

    At 2147 hours on March 4, 2003, Box 1658 was transmitted. Within two and a half minutes, the first units arrived on the scene and were met with a medium smoke condition emanating from numerous occupancies. 1636 Pitkin Avenue was a two-story taxpayer-type building, housing four separate stores. Lines were stretched and forcible entry began.

    FF James Mills, the chauffeur of Ladder 176, positioned his apparatus and began assisting in opening roll-down gates. Some 22 minutes into the operation, FF Robert Petrarca of Ladder 120 transmitted a mayday.

    FF Mills went down the stairs to the cellar, put his facepiece on and began following the line into the cellar. He encountered Engine 227 members, who were operating their line into a common hall that ran the length of the stores. There were many radio transmissions from the units, but most alarming was the transmission from the inside team of Ladder 120, stating they were nearly out of air.

    After communicating with Engine 227, FF Mills, knowing full well that time was critical, proceeded to crawl toward the front of the cellar. Due to the complexity of this occupancy, most of the members were searching the cellar of the corner occupancy (jewelry store) and not the cellar where FF Petrarca was lost.

    FF Mills began crawling into this cellar. This was not an open, orderly area; this was a Brownsville cellar, filled with many obstacles and debris, which had built up over many years. The sprinklers were operating, so the heat build-up was not intense, but a highly charged atmosphere of dense smoke and carbon monoxide permeated the cellar.

    This low-heat atmosphere allowed FF Petrarca to go further into the cellar area. It actually put him in grave danger since he quickly became disoriented and crawled in the opposite direction of the only stairway out of the cellar. The search rope of Ladder 120 ended at an unused staircase; ironically, this was the same point of the breach made later in the incident.

    FF Mills, without the protection of a hand-line, began his search. No one realized the wall of the common hall did not go to the ceiling, which allowed the fire to cross into the cellar area where FF Mills had crawled, searching for the missing member. The only line (Engine 227) in the cellar was back at the stair area.

    After searching for nearly six minutes and covering a distance of approximately 80 feet, FF Mills located FF Petrarca, who was face down and unconscious in two to three inches of water. FF Mills gave an Urgent message over his handie-talkie, notifying the Incident Commander that he had located the missing member.

    Due to the stress and physical effort it took to make it to this point, the air in FF Mill’s SCBA was so low his vibralert was going off, but he continued to transmit his location, while trying to drag the unconscious member--who weighed more than 200 pounds--toward the stairs. The air in FF Mills’ mask ran out and he was forced to remove his facepiece. He, too, began breathing the contaminated and CO-heavy air.

    Fortunately, members of Ladder 176 made a breach in the cellar wall, not too far from FF Mill’s location. This allowed members of Rescue 4 to enter, locate and assist FF Mills with the downed member. Together, they dragged FF Petrarca to the breach. (The breach was about half the distance to the stair.)

    Shortly after the removal of FF Petrarca from the cellar area where FF Mills found him, there was a collapse. Both Firefighters would have been buried under it.

    FF Mills’ act of bravery was accomplished under extremely hostile conditions. As Deputy Chief Daniel Butler wrote in his endorsement: “With all this going on, FF Mills may have left and communicated FF Petrarca’s position once safe outside himself. Instead, he decided he would leave when they both left. This saved critical time for FF Petrarca and prevented more severe damage from lack of oxygen and the real possibility of his death.” For his heroic actions, FF James F. Mills is awarded the Dr. Harry M. Archer Medal.—JTV
    Proud East Coast Traditionalist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghostrider157 View Post
    I have been reading through this thread, and I realize it is old, however there is no reason why every firefighter should have a radio. You talk about interior firefighters needing radios, well that is what their PASS is for. Every interior firefighter should have one of those. Radio's are abused in my area, and according to our dispatcher only people who are Lieutenants and above can carry and talk on one. Dispatchers do not care how many portables are responding to scenes. They really care about the chief and assistant chief, and then trucks. If you want every firefighter to be able to communicate then I suggest making phone number lists. Also on the not of All Calls, where a scene has gotten big, and more personnel are needed then I suggest Alpha numeric pagers. They hook up to a computer, and you can set up page lists. Even some dispatch centers can be equipped so that dispatch can page for a crew to respond to quarters when all the crews on duty are out.

    I personally have a portable, because I am an EMT that gets put on call all the time. I am allowed to use it whenever I want. I have signed on to dispatch about three times since I got it months ago.
    http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/media?id=5981927

    How about this one from a couple days ago? The burned FF hit the mayday button on his radio, and was able to transmit his last known location. He was pulled out through a 2nd floor window by another FF. If you want, you can go visit him in the hospital and tell him he shouldnt have a radio.
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    Maybe its because I am fairly new but I don't get it.

    My vollie dept is 'radio rich' if you will. Here, we have radios for each riding position on rigs + spare and all the members have a portable as well. We use the minitor pagers as well for principal member alert system. (pagers have a nice 30 second transmission save feature and vibrate, radios we have don't)

    How we use them - officers and trucks notifiy dispatch of en-route, on-scene etc. Members/FF if its sounds like a large incident will notify the officers on our talk group so they have an idea of incoming manpower. This is generally for reported structure files - MVA's with entrapment etc. Smaller incidents and in house medicals - FF just respond to the station/scene and don't tramsmit the en-route.

    We don't have problems with people who like to hear themselves on the radio. That, its seems, is training and SOP. We also can guarentee everyone on the fireground has a working radio, either their issued portable on one from the trucks.

    Why wouldn't you want everyone equipped for communications? (I understand the funding issue limiting it)

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    We have recently taken possession of about a dozen radio communicators that replace the amplifiers on our SCBA masks. At first I was a bit skeptical because I thought there would be too much fireground chatter to pick through at a typical structure fire. It has, however, been a pleasent surprise and has exceeded everyone's expectations.
    Our commincators operate on low wattage frequencies that only communicate with others on the fireground. Dispatch and the trucks have no way of hearing the individual ff. However, the IC has a radio that will pick up and transmit both the ff frequencies and the normal fd frequency dispatch and the trucks operate off of. I know this system has it's limitations, but it is a huge improvement from the time, up until recently, when the only firefighters inside a structure with outside communications was one of 4 officers, either of 2 captains or 2 lieutenants.
    Some observations from the handful of fires we have had this system in place:
    Improved morale, increased confidence, quicker and easier interior operations, and lower excitement among ff, which leads to less air useage.
    It just makes you feel better hearing the IC talking to the interior officers and knowing whats going on without having the capt having to shout at you to tell you to advance or pull back or whatever.

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    in our county every body has a motorola xt2500 or 5000 300 in all at a price of 3500.00 each and this don't include all the ones in the trucks and cars

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