1. #1
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    Default 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?
    Chris Shields
    Lieutenant / EMT
    Haz-Mat Technician
    East Syracuse Fire Dept
    Onondaga County, NY

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    110% agree. Everyone on our department is issued a radio. Itís a very important tool to have. The only draw back about the radios we use is they are not loud enough, so they are kinda hard to hear on the fireground. Plus if you get them too wet or get foam on them they tend to go kaput.

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    MANDATORY that every firefighter entering a structure with an SCBA on should have a radio also.

    What do the ones do who dont wear an SCBA?

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    I totally agree.

    When our city bought new radios for police and fire several years ago, they purchased a radio for every single member of the police department. The fire department got seven or eight radios for more than 20 career or volunteer positions. I don't know that we need radios for every single person (can you imagine the radio traffic with that)... But we certainly need them for every riding position on the apparatus.

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    Does this include Explorers?


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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingKiwi View Post
    Does this include Explorers?


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    We equip each apparatus with portable radios to match air packs plus one for the driver. If there are 6 air packs, there are 7 radios.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    There should be a portable radio for every assigned position on the rig.

    Officers should be assigned their own portable radio.

    Off duty personnel recalled for a major incident, call and volunteer personnel should form up in crews with at least one of the people in a crew having a radio, preferrably a company officer.
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    I completely agree every member that is wearing SCBA should be radio equipped. We have found that having them truck mounted is probably the best idea for most. In our area the County bought hundreds of portables for the various depts. Due to the high number of volunteers, most were given to individuals to keep on their person, which has led to a near collapse of the regional dispatch system. It seems that many places cannot instill radio disipline. It's amazing how many people turn out for a bark mulch fire and feel dispatch needs to track them!

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    Everyone on our department has a radio. The feedback issue with a team in close proximity is a problem that is easily overcome. When a team is working on a job, one of them has the task of communication with their captain and/or IC. The other member leaves his radio turned off and in his radio pocket. Should the partner fall through the floor/whatever, turn the radio on, guess there's no feedback issue now.
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    Haweater, I'd suggest that instead of having them turned off, they simply have the volume all the way down. That way, there is no feedback, and if they fall and are trapped, they can transmit without having to fumble around (if they are even able) and turn the radio on.
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    When I was on the job in the 1980s, there was only one portable for each truck, with the exception of one of the ladders. That truck was only run at night, and there was NO portable. Worse, hitting the siren caused a dead short in the electrical system, such that the truck radio cut out. Complaining did no good. Eventually the dept went fully paid and that ladder was put in reserve. Now the dept has a portable for every FF.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Haweater, I'd suggest that instead of having them turned off, they simply have the volume all the way down. That way, there is no feedback, and if they fall and are trapped, they can transmit without having to fumble around (if they are even able) and turn the radio on.
    Thanks for quickly replying to the keep the radio turned off idea. Reaching for your mic is one thing, having to reach into your radio pocket to turn the radio on is another!
    Chris Shields
    Lieutenant / EMT
    Haz-Mat Technician
    East Syracuse Fire Dept
    Onondaga County, NY

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    Quote Originally Posted by SIGNAL99COM View Post
    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?
    There is one factor that is not just an "excuse": Financial. Some depts simply do not have the funds to purchase a radio for every member/SCBA riding position. There are plenty of small town volunteer depts that are still funded entirely by donations, and can't afford to purchase that many radios. Having them be required by NFPA would put quite the burden on these depts.

    I'm not disagreeing with you, I think ideally every member on the fireground should have their own radio...but not everything comes down to a BS excuse for why a particular dept can't or won't purchase them.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Haweater, I'd suggest that instead of having them turned off, they simply have the volume all the way down. That way, there is no feedback, and if they fall and are trapped, they can transmit without having to fumble around (if they are even able) and turn the radio on.

    Quote Originally Posted by SIGNAL99COM View Post
    Thanks for quickly replying to the keep the radio turned off idea. Reaching for your mic is one thing, having to reach into your radio pocket to turn the radio on is another!
    The trouble with leaving it on with the volume turned all the way down is if, in the heat of the moment, they forget to turn the volume back up, they won't hear anyone calling them. Since the on/off control IS the volume knob on 99% of the radios out there, there's really no difference either way. Yes, keeping the radio on ensures the firefighter can just key up and give a MAYDAY and someone will probably hear it, but what if someone else is transmitting and their message isn't heard? I'd rather have my guy turn his volume all the way up so he knows someone heard him and acknowledged him!

    Also, with the volume at full, if the firefighter passes out, you can use feedback to help locate him. Can't do that if he transmits the MAYDAY with the volume all the way down. If he goes unconscious BEFORE he gets a chance to transmit, well then it won't matter either way, clearly.
    Last edited by Chauffer6; 09-05-2007 at 01:12 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    There should be a portable radio for every assigned position on the rig.

    Officers should be assigned their own portable radio.

    Off duty personnel recalled for a major incident, call and volunteer personnel should form up in crews with at least one of the people in a crew having a radio, preferrably a company officer.
    Close to how we are set up, All department personnel are issued a Minitor V, All officers and Engineers are issued a radio, each seat has a radio, and spares are avaiable in both command vehicles.
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    Malahat VFD went to that approach a few years ago, when we were required by CRTC to upgrade our radios to meet the narrowbanding requirements. The chief at the time figured that since we had several older radios that needed to be replaced, he should add a few more to the rack, so that everyone on the fire ground would at least have one in hand if a situation called for one. We used to get flak if we didn't take one.
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    Just because every member is issued one doesn't mean that they will bother to grab it when they respond to the station/scene. Each memeber of my department has a brand new ICOM F33 with every PSA frequency programmed for the tri-county area. We also don't have an issue with abuse; however, we do have an issue with people not grabbing theirs. I like the idea of clipping a radio to every air pack and running a lapel mic up through the strap and clipping it so that it hangs upside down. Each radio should be checked at least weekly with the batteries kept on a regular charge/discharge rotation.
    Last edited by KEEPBACK200FEET; 09-05-2007 at 02:45 PM. Reason: I typed the wrong model.
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    Every riding position has a radio w/speaker mic.

    Company officers have an officer radio in their locker (it has a display so that identifiers can be read). All Mobile radios also have a display so that the Identifier can be read. All chief vehicles have two radios, one for dispatch and one for fireground.

    All radios have their ID engraved in the radio. So that you know that you have radio 53C. The ID's are Company Unit (number) and seat position (letter). So, 53A is the officer seat, 53B is the chaf, and the rest are FF seats.

    In regards to not having enough money... that's a tough one. My suggestion is to research what is out there and start adding radios one by one. They don't have to be top of the line motorola!

    Outfit your first due and one for each apparatus after that and then slowly add more..

    This should be a priority with your fundraising and appeals to town government.
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    On the money end, almost anyone should be able to get one on many grants for Interoperable Communications. This one of the highest priorites for the funding of grants. Our County (very small) got one through a single FD for $825K!!!

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    My old department (that had money to waste!) issued radios to officers only.
    My current (with little extra $$) issues radios to every interior fire fighter.
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    Default money...but the radio is essential

    Ok,

    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MPVFD2046 View Post
    Ok,

    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.

    Don't forget to investigate working as a region on a grant application for a radio system. From what I'm told regional communication grants are very successful.

    How do those orange buttons work for you? We didn't program them yet, and are a little hesitant to do so.
    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 nmfire View Post
    We equip each apparatus with portable radios to match air packs plus one for the driver. If there are 6 air packs, there are 7 radios.
    Thats how we do it. Like somebody else said just because you have a radio does not mean you have to talk on it.
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    It depends on the community and the type of structures.

    A small town with primarily mobile homes and single family residences certainly does not need a radio for every riding position and every member. As long as the members are equipped with PASS devices, and the lead member of the crews have a radio, these structures are small enough that a radio is not needed for all. There should be enough radios for personnel supervising crews and/or sectors, as they need to communicate with the outside for direction. Officers should be issued portables for daily use, but there is no need for line firefighters to have radios.

    Communties with larger structures may need to consider radios for all riding posistions, however, even there, personnel should be operating, at a minimum as a 2 man team. As long as one member of the team has a radio, that should be more than sufficiant. Certainly not all members needs radios. Pagers are more than adequate for non-officers.

    Departments that allow members to operate solo obviously needs radios for all members. While I find this practice foolish and dangerous, it is done on a regular basis.

    We issue radios to all members, including support and juniors. We have found that a radio is very close in price to a pager. We do it priamrily so that medical responders and firefighters going POV can give a patient/arrival report. On the fireground we could operate with far fewer radios without a compromise in firefighter safety.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    I

    Departments that allow members to operate solo obviously needs radios for all members. While I find this practice foolish and dangerous, it is done on a regular basis.

    You truly amaze me, you know it? You are such a complete and total hypocrite. You rip guys for how their departments attack certain fires, and tell us all that every city is unique, and that these different needs for a department are all different etc..., and then criticize departments that operate different than you think is appropriate? Get real, and go away, please. Fantasy land awaits.

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