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    Default Digital Radios and...

    Did everyone read that article on the main page? Va says that the Digital garbage contributed to the death of one of the Brothers. I wonder if Von Scumbag had anything to do with them getting them.


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    Quote Originally Posted by jonnyirons2 View Post
    Did everyone read that article on the main page? Va says that the Digital garbage contributed to the death of one of the Brothers. I wonder if Von Scumbag had anything to do with them getting them.
    johnny I wouldn't be surprised. I hate him and im not even apart of the FDNY. So many things about him just gets me mad. And thats all ima say for now don't want to get in trouble.

    rob

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    In NOLA after Katrina, MOT setup a Dig Trunked system on the bridge across the Miss River, it was worthless! You could hardly hear one another. It just makes me mad that they try to push this on people as being latest and greatest.

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    Maybe it is because I'm a nerd. But I will never understand how people in positions of authority make the decisions they make regarding radio systems. This being a case and point unfortunately.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    We are going to be switched to a digital system in the last part of sprin or first of summer. Are these radioas really that bad?

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    From what I've heard from dispatchers and our kind alike, the new 800 mhz system is far superior to the old high band we used to have in my county.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    Maybe it is because I'm a nerd. But I will never understand how people in positions of authority make the decisions they make regarding radio systems. This being a case and point unfortunately.
    They are either going for the latest and greatest based on what they have been fed by a salesman, hoping that it turns out to work effectively so that they can always be remembered for it. Either that, or they just don't wanna pony up for a nice system.
    Just know, I chose my own fate. I drove by the fork in the road and went straight.

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    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    That was kind of a rhetorical statement. I know the answer to my own question, it just annoys me. I could go on for hours just for what goes on within 5 miles of my present position, let alone elsewhere in the country.

    FF2462, to answer your question, NO. The radios are not bad. They are actually very nice radios. It is the SYSTEM that is often inadequate. This is how it usually plays out....

    Fancy radio system requires a LOT of infrastructure to be reliable inside buildings with a portable on your hip. Infrastructure costs a LOT of money. Budget does not have a lot of money in it. System therefore designed with the bare minimum infrastructure to meet some inflated coverage specification that in reality will never actually work. This bare minimum is useless but sold and presented as the end-all solution to communications and counter terrorism.

    What you end up with is a system that can't hear portables inside buildings. You end up with a system without the capacity for the user load and you get busy-bonks. If its sold by a dealer thats not good at what the do, it will end up sounding like garbage too when it does work. Then it will cost twice as much to "upgrade" the system than it would have to just do it right in the first place. So instead of that, you'll have a bunch of bandaid fixes that just make it worse.

    In any case, your interior operations should ALWAYS be on a simplex channel, which means a channel not dependent on repeaters, trunking controllers, or radio towers. Radio to radio direct. Nothing in the way, nothing to fail. And it should be analog, not digital. Analog has been proven to work on the fireground for a hundred years. Digital on the fireground has been proven to not work. You do the math.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Analog analog analog. To give you an idea of what it sounds like, call someone on an AT&T cell phone in a spotty area, ya know that garbled unintelligible noise? That is what happens with a digital radio when the signal is either weak or has interference. Analog doesnt need to worry about error correction, you can just listen through the static, but because digital converts your voice to 0 and 1's it can not correct what it deems is an acceptable signal. MOT and MA/COM are quite persuasive. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A SIMPLEX ANALOG CHANNEL. I bet you a paycheck you will be using it. If you are in a Union DEMAND that it be tested in the furthest basement from the furthest tower, DO NOT WAIT till they issue them and have the ribbon cutting ceremony to find out youre trapped in a basement, or one of the cops is getting his behind handed to him before you find out it didnt work behind the old feed store. It happened in NYC, a guy almost died in Queens because they just issued the radio's and didnt tell anyone what was what. The other annoying thing is the sound, everyone sounds so digital. My friend is Secret Service and listening to his radio in the background while on the phone with him is insane!

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    That was kind of a rhetorical statement. I know the answer to my own question, it just annoys me. I could go on for hours just for what goes on within 5 miles of my present position, let alone elsewhere in the country.
    I know you know the answer as a radio guy, I was simply reiterating the underlying idea.
    Just know, I chose my own fate. I drove by the fork in the road and went straight.

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    Go put your pussy 2 1/2" lines away kiddies.

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    By the way KEEPBACK200FEET, you're so dramatic!

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    if you use digital, at least switch it to simplex mode when doing highrise. Repeaters have a reputation for mucking up through all the concrete and steel. It would suck to be trapped on the 50th floor and your radio wont reach outside the structure
    The Box. You opened it. We Came...

    "You'll take my life but I'll take your's too. You'll fire musket but I'll run you through. So when your waiting for the next attack, you'll better understand there's no turn back."

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    In my previous department we used an 800mHz trunked system for all of the county. It was set up with approx. 50 fire/police agencies sharing the system. The system was VERY effective and we had almost no problems in the 4 years I was there. To make a decision on a trunked system you definitely need to understand at least the basic idea of how a true trunked system works. It is basically a bank of "standard" 800mHz frequencies in a big pool. Then "talkgroups" are assigned with a specific ID number. You transmit and receive on talkgroups, not frequencies. The idea is to have a small number of frequencies assigned to a lot of talkgroups. The reason for this is because, as we all know, you don't use a lot of your frequencies available on the radios but they are still occupied and assigned per FCC licenses. In a trunked system, these frequencies are not locked for one agency or incident type, they are constantly being recycled every time you key up your mic on a talkgroup...it snags the first available frequency and that is your transmitting frequency...and there is usually a 1 or 2 second hang time that it will hold the frequency as to not have to wait the .5 second to re-acquire a new frequency. So if you transmit and then 3 minutes later receive a transmission it will most likely be on a totally different frequency and you would never know it because your talkgroup is what is locked on. I don't know how clear all that was? haha Point of the story...i agree with a lot of you...if the money isn't spent to acquire the necessary amount of frequencies and to put together a system that has plenty of receivers you will end up waiting with "bonks" and this will multiply with occurence of a large scale incident or disaster. We rarely ever used our line-of-sight frequencies...only for mutual aid issues or contacting incoming Airlift medical helicopters.

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    I saw this and I am very skepitical of "new" technology. We are supposed to be getting a new 700 mhz digital radio system next year. I am sure as with all other things this county does, it won't have the follow through, or do the right testing, and no matter what it will be screwed up. Hell right now, most guys go out and buy their own personal HT1000's to carry because we don't have enough on all the apparatus for everyone to have a radio. When we get this new system, they are telling us that individual radios cost $5000 each, which is definitely cost prohibitive to buying your own. I hope it really isn't as bad as the article makes it out to be.

    Stay Safe
    Chris Polimeni
    Prince George's County FD
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    By DAVID GAMBACORTA
    Philadelphia Daily News
    gambacd@phillynews.com 215-854-5994

    A YOUNG CRACK dealer unleashed a torrent of bullets from the dry-rotted window of his East Frankford flophouse, dropping two undercover narcotics cops in seconds.

    On the bitterly cold night of Nov. 13, 2007, a veteran Highway Patrol officer was the first to reach one of the shot cops, who had a bullet lodged in his hip.

    For 30 nerve-wracking minutes, he used his Motorola police radio to try to talk to other officers while he transported the wounded cop.

    Silence.

    For 15 minutes, another cop racing from North Philadelphia to the shooting scene used her radio to find out what was going on.

    Silence.

    Finally, she used her cell phone.

    The Daily News found that the radio problems in East Frankford that night were among more than a dozen other malfunctions, mix-ups and crashes that have occurred with the Motorola system since 2005 - the same year that city officials declared that they had fixed most problems with the $62 million radio system.

    Critics say that the system is still more complicated than firefighters and cops need it to be, and remains a serious liability in times of crisis.

    Two years ago, in one of the most serious malfunctions, the Police Department had to rely on a backup system for three days, and kept officers in two-car teams because of safety concerns.

    Problems continued as recently as March 15, when screeching noises were heard on radios in North Philadelphia and cops in the Northeast couldn't communicate with police dispatchers, police officials said.

    Other critics say that the city has failed to act on several key recommendations that were included in a 2005 audit of the Motorola system done by the City Controller's Office.

    "We literally have several binders and folders full of information about reported radio problems," said John McGrody, a Fraternal Order of Police vice president who investigates cops' complaints about the system.

    "The bottom line is that the rank-and-file still have no confidence in the system. It's their main lifeline out there if they get in trouble, but you know what? Help can't arrive if the radios don't work. Someone's going to get hurt."

    A rocky history

    For more than three decades, police and firefighters in Philadelphia had relied on an analog radio system maintained by the city.

    By the mid-1990s, city officials felt that the system was outdated, so they solicited proposals on a more modern radio system from Motorola, Ericsson-GE Corp. and E.F. Johnson. The city signed a contract with Motorola in 1999.

    Three years later, cops and firefighters officially started using Motorola's 800-megahertz digital system, which came with a $54.8 million price tag that later rose to $62 million.

    Motorola's system promised to be better in almost every way imaginable, offering, among other things:

    _ Citywide coverage for portable radios carried by cops and firefighters.

    _ Encryption technology that allowed cops and firefighters to talk on channels that criminals couldn't eavesdrop on.

    _ Better radio coverage inside buildings.

    _ Interoperability, a mechanism that would allow cops and firefighters to communicate directly with one another in event of a disaster.

    But complaints arose immediately from cops and firefighters on the street.

    The digital system, which used a computerized controller to assign talk space to users as it became available, had a major downside: If a bunch of cops or firefighters all tried to use their radios at the same time during an emergency, they heard busy signals, called "bonks."

    The radios came with emergency buttons that were supposed to give cops or firefighters 10 seconds of clear air on all nearby radios, creating priority over all other transmissions.

    But the emergency buttons were flawed, too. When firefighter Leon Phipps was trapped in a West Philadelphia house fire in April 2004, his emergency button didn't work when he screamed for help, he claimed afterward. Phipps, 53, suffered career-ending injuries in the blaze, and Motorola eventually settled a lawsuit with him.

    In August 2004, Capt. John Taylor, 53, and firefighter Rey Rubio, 42, died in the basement of a Port Richmond rowhouse fire. Taylor's radio malfunctioned when he tried to call for help, according to a lawsuit that both men's families filed against Motorola in 2006.

    The problems triggered City Council hearings, held in summer and fall of 2004. Officials found that cell-phone signals were blocking radio transmissions at 56 locations across the city because the cell signals were also operating on the 800-megahertz frequency.

    City officials said that Nextel Communications Inc. was found to be the biggest commercial user of that frequency. Nextel was supposed to change frequencies beginning in 2005 - eliminating many busy signals - but the process has moved slowly.

    "It's taking a lot of time. They're tough negotiators," said Frank Punzo, deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Property.

    But Punzo noted that the city has successfully worked with Nextel to minimize cell-phone interference. "We're lucky if we hear of two dead spots a month, if that many," he said.

    Motorola also altered a toggle knob on the portable radios that had caused police and firefighters to end up on the wrong channel when they pressed the emergency button.

    But the criticism didn't stop there.

    'A higher failure rate'

    Philadelphia police officers had nowhere near the amount of training on the new radio system that was needed, causing extra confusion, according to the 2005 audit.

    The study, done by then-City Controller Jonathan Saidel, on the heels of the Council hearings, found that police officers only watched a 20-minute video about the new system, compared to the three hours of training recommended by Motorola.

    "There was some validity to that," Police Communications Chief Inspector Michael Feeney said recently. "The problem is that it's logistically impossible to train 6,000 people who are never together at one time."

    Police brass initially focused on training supervisors, who were supposed to then train their officers. But not all supervisors followed through.

    In light of the controller's report, Feeney said, cops were offered individual training on the system.

    "Believe me, I'm not trying to say that it was perfect, because it wasn't," he said. "If we had it to do over again, we would have done more training."

    The audit also recommended that the city purchase portable repeater systems that could amplify radio signals for stronger reception in buildings and below ground - a critical issue to firefighters or cops who might become trapped or hurt in basements, like the late Capt. John Taylor and Rey Rubio.

    Digital repeaters that would be compatible with Motorola's digital radio system were going to be available by 2006, the report said.

    "Yet here we are, three years later. We still have problems with reliability, and the city hasn't implemented the recommendations the controller's office made," said Dave Kearney, a firefighter and recording secretary for firefighters' union Local 22.

    Councilman Frank Rizzo, who co-sponsored the '04 hearings, said last week that he would "like to do legislation that would require repeaters to be put in all of the new high-rise construction projects in the city to support fire and police communications."

    Punzo, though, said the digital repeaters that are on the market won't work on the city's 800- megahertz system.

    The controller's report surprisingly found that there was no documentation to suggest that city officials - before shelling out $54 million - had bothered to verify the effectiveness of Motorola's system by visiting other big cities that used it.

    When Fire Department officials in Phoenix, Ariz., field-tested Motorola's system for eight weeks in 2004, they found that their old analog system held up better during emergencies.

    The Motorola "digital . . . radios had a higher failure rate" and did not meet fire service standards, the Arizona study said.

    "Look, we're using a system that is not as reliable as the one we had in place," Kearney said. "Yeah, it has a lot more bells and whistles, but it's only good when it works."

    'Sick and tired'

    The most troubling incidents with the Motorola system over the past few years have involved the Philadelphia Police Department.

    "Every cop in the street has a question in his or her mind about whether the radios will work or not when they really need it to," said the FOP's McGrody.

    The two undercover narcotics cops were wounded on Orthodox Street near Josephine in East Frankford on Nov. 13, less than two weeks after Officer Chuck Cassidy was fatally shot interrupting a robbery in West Oak Lane.

    "Then those two officers were shot, and we had a female officer who was trying to get out there from North Philadelphia," McGrody said.

    "For 10 to 15 minutes, she couldn't broadcast on her radio. She had to use her cell phone twice to call other officers to find out what was going on out there."

    At the shooting scene, the veteran Highway Patrol officer had already reached one of the wounded cops and planned to rush him to nearby Frankford Hospital-Torresdale.

    "For 30 minutes, during an extremely critical time, he was unable to get through," McGrody said, the frustration growing in his voice.

    "At that time, most of us were at Temple University Hospital, where the other officer had been taken. We knew we had another shot cop, but we had no idea where he was because that radio malfunctioned."

    When the Daily News told Councilman Rizzo about the incident recently, he fumed.

    "If we identify that there are more issues that are developing, we'll do a hearing again and get everybody back in the room," Rizzo said.

    Punzo sent Rizzo an explanatory letter that included an analysis of the incident written by Motorola. Both notes said the problems had been caused by human error because nothing was wrong with the radio.

    Punzo's note also stated that officers mistakenly change channels on their radios if they think it will enable them to be heard. "This just gets them lost in the system and contributes to their feelings of not being heard."

    McGrody got angry when advised of Punzo's note to Rizzo.

    "I am sick and tired of this pattern of trying to blame officers for radio malfunctions," McGrody said.

    "It's actually insulting to continually blame the problems on firefighters and cops."

    Deputy Police Commissioner Jack Gaittens insisted that the system functions well overall.

    "People are still dissatisfied," Gaittens said, "but in terms of functionality, the system's OK. It's subject to mechanical breakdown, but we stay on top of Motorola.

    "This is public safety, and people's lives depend on it." *

    System failed 14 times since 2005

    THE DAILY NEWS has learned of 14 reported malfunctions with the Motorola radio system since 2005, the same year that the city claimed to have worked out most bugs with the $62 million system. Some were minor maintenance issues, but others were far more serious:

    _ March 15, 2008: Police Chief Inspector Michael Feeney said that problems with a Verizon T1 line - which ties into the Motorola system - caused a screeching sound in North Philly, making it practically impossible to hear radio transmissions. Later that same night, cops in Northeast Philly couldn't communicate with police dispatchers.

    The city relied on a backup radio for six hours while Verizon technicians replaced eight electronic cards, which help the system function, in City Hall and at Police Headquarters.

    _ Jan. 17, 2008: Police officials said that an officer-assist call caused a citywide band to "go down for a minute."

    _ Dec. 7, 2007: An electronic-card failure at a communication tower on Domino Lane in Roxborough forced police officers across the city to rely on a backup radio system and switch to two-man teams from 4:30 to 8 p.m., said Communications Inspector Thomas Lippo. "We never lost contact with them," Lippo said.

    _ Nov. 13, 2007: Two undercover narcotics cops were shot in East Frankford. A Highway Patrol officer, who tended to a wounded cop and who drove him to a hospital, said that he couldn't reach anyone on his radio for 30 minutes. Another officer, who responded to the shooting from North Philly, said that she couldn't reach anyone for 10 to 15 minutes. The city attributed the malfunctions to the officers' using the radios improperly.

    _ Oct. 11, 2007: A radio tower at 31st and Grays Ferry was struck by lightning, making it difficult for cops to send or receive radio messages. They relied on a backup radio system from 8:15 until 9:40 p.m., Lippo said.

    _ June 28, 2007: A radio tower near Philadelphia International Airport was struck by lightning, making it difficult for cops in South, Southwest and West Philadelphia to send or receive messages, Lippo said. They relied on a backup system sporadically from 12:40 until 7:05 a.m.

    _ Dec. 14, 2006: Trouble with a Verizon T1 line at City Hall forced police to rely on a backup radio system for two hours, Lippo said.

    _ Sept. 11, 2006: A "multiplexer unit" went down on the T1 line at City Hall, forcing cops to rely on the backup radio system - and ride around the city in two-man teams for safety - for three full days, Lippo said.

    _ Sept. 5, 2006: A Verizon T1 line near Philadelphia International Airport malfunctioned, causing brief communication problems, Lippo said.

    _ March 19, 2005: Communications problems in Southwest Philly and the East Division were tied to another broken electronic card, which helps to operate the radio system, Lippo said. The backup system was used several times between 1 and 8 p.m., and even into the following day.

    _ Feb. 23, 2005: Radio bands throughout the city went to the backup system for three minutes, beginning at 8:04 p.m., because of problems with area radio towers.

    _ Jan. 5, 2005: A police lieutenant tried six times to use his emergency button - which should have given him 10 seconds of clear air - when he was at a quadruple-assist call in South Philadelphia, Lippo said. He wound up using another officer's radio to get his message across. *

    - David Gambacorta
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    I am not defending any particular radio system, but this article is not very objective. Also, why does Philly still use terms like "north band" This is not 1960. Sounds like the city could use someone with a broader vocabulary to support this system. At least they would sound like they are trying to fix it.

    _ March 15, 2008: Police Chief Inspector Michael Feeney said that problems with a Verizon T1 line - which ties into the Motorola system - caused a screeching sound in North Philly, making it practically impossible to hear radio transmissions. Later that same night, cops in Northeast Philly couldn't communicate with police dispatchers. Not the radio system's fault.

    The city relied on a backup radio for six hours while Verizon technicians replaced eight electronic cards, which help the system function, in City Hall and at Police Headquarters. Not the radio system's fault.

    _ Jan. 17, 2008: Police officials said that an officer-assist call caused a citywide band to "go down for a minute." What does this mean?

    _ Dec. 7, 2007: An electronic-card failure at a communication tower on Domino Lane in Roxborough forced police officers across the city to rely on a backup radio system and switch to two-man teams from 4:30 to 8 p.m., said Communications Inspector Thomas Lippo. "We never lost contact with them," Lippo said. Failures happen, thats why there is a backup (failsoft & site trunking)

    _ Nov. 13, 2007: Two undercover narcotics cops were shot in East Frankford. A Highway Patrol officer, who tended to a wounded cop and who drove him to a hospital, said that he couldn't reach anyone on his radio for 30 minutes. Another officer, who responded to the shooting from North Philly, said that she couldn't reach anyone for 10 to 15 minutes. The city attributed the malfunctions to the officers' using the radios improperly. They need to explain just HOW improperly. Holding them upside down? Talking into the battery? How do you improperly use a radio for 30 minutes?

    _ Oct. 11, 2007: A radio tower at 31st and Grays Ferry was struck by lightning, making it difficult for cops to send or receive radio messages. They relied on a backup radio system from 8:15 until 9:40 p.m., Lippo said. Failures happen, thats why there is a backup (failsoft & site trunking)

    _ June 28, 2007: A radio tower near Philadelphia International Airport was struck by lightning, making it difficult for cops in South, Southwest and West Philadelphia to send or receive messages, Lippo said. They relied on a backup system sporadically from 12:40 until 7:05 a.m. Failures happen, thats why there is a backup (failsoft & site trunking)

    _ Dec. 14, 2006: Trouble with a Verizon T1 line at City Hall forced police to rely on a backup radio system for two hours, Lippo said. Not the radio system's fault.

    _ Sept. 11, 2006: A "multiplexer unit" went down on the T1 line at City Hall, forcing cops to rely on the backup radio system - and ride around the city in two-man teams for safety - for three full days, Lippo said. Not the radio system's fault.

    _ Sept. 5, 2006: A Verizon T1 line near Philadelphia International Airport malfunctioned, causing brief communication problems, Lippo said. Not the radio system's fault.

    _ March 19, 2005: Communications problems in Southwest Philly and the East Division were tied to another broken electronic card, which helps to operate the radio system, Lippo said. The backup system was used several times between 1 and 8 p.m., and even into the following day. Failures happen, thats why there is a backup (failsoft & site trunking)

    _ Feb. 23, 2005: Radio bands throughout the city went to the backup system for three minutes, beginning at 8:04 p.m., because of problems with area radio towers. Failures happen, thats why there is a backup (failsoft & site trunking)

    _ Jan. 5, 2005: A police lieutenant tried six times to use his emergency button - which should have given him 10 seconds of clear air - when he was at a quadruple-assist call in South Philadelphia, Lippo said. He wound up using another officer's radio to get his message across. Sounds like a portable radio problem, not the system. Otherwise neither radio would have worked.
    Last edited by DCFDCAR5; 04-13-2008 at 05:31 PM.

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    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Philly is more or less "split in half" by Girard Avenue. Everything North of Girard, operates on "North Band." South of Girard......"South Band."

    The FD has 4 primary talk groups-
    -Fire North/EMS North
    -Fire South/EMS South
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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