Every Member Having A Radio!
With 14 years in the volunteer fire service, I have had the opportunity to build strong opinions on certain aspects of the job. One of which is that I believe it should be MANDATORY that every firefighter entering a structure with an SCBA on should have a radio also.
Having a radio doesn't mean that you have to talk on the radio. It means that if something happens and you become lost and disoriented, you can call for assistance or god forbid, call a mayday. How would a member call for help or call for a mayday if he doesn't have a radio? What happens if during a search with your partner, your partner with the radio falls through the floor into the basement? How are you supposed to report what just happened if you don't have a radio?
It is 2007 folks and if you ask me, there is no excuse for this. I have heard all the excuses of why departments don't feel it should be a requirement, and so far all of the negative issues all lead back to being training issues. I have heard everything from "if you give a guy a radio, he will talk on it just to hear himself talk" to "if all three members on the handline have a radio, the feedback will cause issues since their so close together". Both of these are training issues which can easily be overcome.
With all the OSHA/PESH requirements, and all the NFPA recommendations, why have we not seen every member has to have a radio come through the system yet? Why isn't this mandatory yet?
money...but the radio is essential
my former department serves a very small town of about 600. Currently two radios are assigned to each apparatus. The engine can seat three, but two are already available for the truck and the same goes for the squad. Additional radios are in a radio bank by the door as you enter the station, so you grab one as you head for your gear. This is SOP for all personnel to have a radio when operating on a scene. This has helped during PAR's and even when members have had to use the little "orange" button.
However, this has not come without a financial burden to the department. Several used radios were purchased to get the number of radios available for each apparatus AND with re-banding the department is now applying for grants in order to communicate with not only our dispatch center, but also all FD's in the area. Money has been an issue, but the expense is well worth it and I am hear today because of the rule every member caries a radio.