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Handheld radio for the Engineer

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  • #16
    All of the posts so far have pointed to a common theme....doing more with less. I would like to think we're doing more because certain things allow us to. It is a known fact that pump operator is not nearly as "hands on" as it once was. With all the other important tasks needing to be done (PPV, horizontal ventilation, laddering, supply line hookup, etc.) the pump operator becomes a valuable extra set of hands. Face it, when most personnel see the need to lend a hand, whether it is mandated (SOG type) or recognized, it will get done. Most pump operators got the position after being on the other end of the hose, so having a highly trained team member leaning against the truck doesn't make sense to me. Its the reality of what we do to have to multi-task. Also, since the pump operator has spent time on the nozzle, I'm sure they understand the need to pay close attention to the setup.

    Having said all this, equipping the pump operator with a portable radio is a must. Give the person some flexibility and let them perform what is needed to allow the team to suceed, within established guidelines.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by EngineC02 View Post
      I currently work on a four man engine where we have two handheld radios. One radio goes to the officer and the other goes to one of the jumpseat firefighters. Our SOP's state that once water supply is established and lines are charged with the appropriate pressures, we will perform tasks such as laddering the building and any other necessary tasks to assist interior crews. If I am not at the pump panel and something would go wrong, I won't know because I don't have a radio to communicate with. I am looking for information that will help me justify a requirement of having a handheld radio for the engineer on each apparatus.
      Sorry for the late post, What is your SOP for mayday?
      I think you need to know when the IC calls for an evacuation from the building. Make this a safty issue.
      relay pumping, next arriving Engine, ladder etc., We could go on. Its as much as what cant go right, as it is what can go wrong. Pick at your SOPS.
      We just got all new hand helds for the whole department.

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      • #18
        I agree that everyone on the fireground should have a radio. While there are certainly places where it may be excusable for a member to not have a radio, working interior tasks is not, and working a pump panel is not.

        How will you know if a line loses pressure?
        How will you know if they've lost the line?
        How will you know to sound the air horn for evacuation? (Especially important since not everyone has a radio to hear to get out.)

        We're lucky enough to have a portable for every seat in the rig, so the engineer has the option of using the portable as is (with lapel mic), plug in a headset that Motorola provided with our radio purchase, or plug in a FireCom headset at the plug in at the pump panel. Each has it's shortcoming and advantages, but at least there's a radio with the pump operator.
        "Share your knowledge - it's a way to achieve immortality." - Stolen from Chase Sargent's Buddy to Boss program

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        • #19
          Originally posted by islandfire03 View Post
          Seems to me that if your SOG's require you to do other duties besides being the engineer /pump operator, this would be all the justification needed. What happens if the nozzle crew needs a line shut down or a hose blows? who's going to work the panel if your off laddering the roof?
          I agree...IMHO, the OPs department has more issues then not enough portable radios. Except for hooking up lines, the pump operator should remain at the pump panel, period.
          Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

          IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

          "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
          RUSH-Tom Sawyer

          Success is when skill meets opportunity
          Failure is when fantasy meets reality

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          • #20
            Originally posted by herbroberson View Post
            :The engineers of the "nonworking" engines (2nd and 3rd due) I can see having assignments of other fireground activities, but not the one "pumping the fire" as we call it here.
            Thats how it goes around here as well. The engineers from the other 2 engines as well as the truck (if not using the aerial) are the "go-fers" on the fireground. The engineer from the working pump stays at the panel.
            Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

            IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

            "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
            RUSH-Tom Sawyer

            Success is when skill meets opportunity
            Failure is when fantasy meets reality

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            • #21
              Driver communications

              My department every seat has a radio assigned. The engineer has several options. We have a portable assigned, which also has an adapter to utilize the david clark headset with the portable. We also have a junction box mounted on our midship pump panel for the david clark headset ( not so mobile). Or you can just use the portable with or without the shoulder mic. At any rate if you want justification try this food for thought.
              The driver is the only posistion on the fireground who can and does often work alone outside. With that if your first on scene YOU are the ONLY OUTSIDE EYES for your interior crew. You are the only one who can see deteriorating conditions from the outside or a victom who suddenly shows up in a window. Rapidly changing conditions may force you away from your pump to throw a ladder or two. Now the only way for you to communicate this very important info is RADIO. You cannot walk in and tap them on the shoulder.
              There are thousands and thousands of grants going out all over the US for communications. NFPA, OSHA, NIOSH, and IAFF, would all like every posistion to have a radio. But not everyone has the money. So I would find your best writer and start applying for some grants. If the money spent on one or two radios saves one life in the span of 15 years. Does that make the spend worth it to the community?

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              • #22
                We just reached our goal of a radio for every seat this year.

                The driver gets a headset for his portable as well (all Motorola Brand Radios and Headsets). We looked at the pump panel plug-in headsets, and the wireless units too, but in the end the portable with headset was the most versatile. The others all had too many drawbacks related to proximity, reliability, and overall versatility.

                Plus, it was no more expensive to buy the driver a basic portable and headset than to wire the engine for the plugs.



                I agree that the reports are going to be your best backup, but keep the cost in mind. Most Chiefs and Administrators can be quikcly sold on the easiest solution when it also happens to be equally or more cost-effective.
                Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

                IACOJ

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by robyfd View Post
                  There are thousands and thousands of grants going out all over the US for communications. NFPA, OSHA, NIOSH, and IAFF, would all like every posistion to have a radio. But not everyone has the money. So I would find your best writer and start applying for some grants. If the money spent on one or two radios saves one life in the span of 15 years. Does that make the spend worth it to the community?
                  Also see DOD surplus (FEPP thru your state forester). Recently picked up for our county FDs 165ea Motorola HT1000 (intrin safe model) for the cost of shipping. So far more than 90% have programmed. Not going to find a better radio anywhere.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by the1141man
                    but realistically that costs money a department may not have.
                    Back when a $100 radio was a lot of money this was a real factor, but today it cost upwards to $6000 to dress us for interior work, $200 for a radio (or even a top of the line $500 unit) is not a lot of money when looked at as part of the big picture. Skimping on a radio might as well skimp on a PASS (here's a whistle instead) or a facemask for the SCBA (yeah, just duct tape that crack, you can't see in smoke anyway). It is essential safety gear.

                    Everybody at my FD has a fairly new personal portable. Trucks carry one (older models) for each seat. Engineer has a headset portable so he's not tied right to the truck when on the air.

                    Originally posted by nmfire View Post
                    driver/engineer/pump operator/whatever name this week.
                    You forgot chaufer, safety officer, and last guy to make the rig
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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Fire304 View Post
                      $200 for a radio (or even a top of the line $500 unit)
                      How much? I guess you dont use Motorolas. Ours are going for $3600 each, and thats on the county group bid.
                      Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

                      IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

                      "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
                      RUSH-Tom Sawyer

                      Success is when skill meets opportunity
                      Failure is when fantasy meets reality

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Dave1983 View Post
                        How much? I guess you dont use Motorolas. Ours are going for $3600 each, and thats on the county group bid.
                        Our HT 750's are in the $1000 CAD range, but that does not include a lapel mic, or any SCBA connections.

                        There are a bunch of $200 radios out there, but not any decent ones intended for firefighting. I would rather a few expensive ones that worked, as opposed to a bunch of cheap ones that melted or fried at the first sign of fire.
                        Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

                        IACOJ

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                        • #27
                          And there our opinions differ.A pager today costs 3-500 bucks. We've got quite a few portables that cost us in the vicinity of $250 or roughly two portables to one pager.They've been soaked,run over,dropped and otherwise abused.All the rank and file(working)have one.I guess I'd rather have twenty of these Elcheapo radios in the building than having just one or two "rated" versions.But that's just my warped logic.For the systems used around here(very simple VHF)it would be a cold day in Haddes before I'd spent $1200 plus for the Motorola name.They just aren't that much better.For the trunked or UHF systems it might be a different story. And no,cheaper isn't necessarily better but communications in everyones hands is(well,most of the time).T.C.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Fire304 View Post
                            Back when a $100 radio was a lot of money this was a real factor, but today it cost upwards to $6000 to dress us for interior work, $200 for a radio (or even a top of the line $500 unit) is not a lot of money when looked at as part of the big picture.

                            We pay about $600 per Kenwood Tk-2180 setup, 304. While they're from a name-brand gig, they are comparively a lower-tech radio.

                            Someday we'll have a county-wide/statewide system that will require us to upgrade to something with the capabilities of the $3600 /\/\'s.

                            Until then... smoke and mirrors on what we get even when we buy "new radios" and put up a "new repeater."
                            Last edited by Resq14; 05-29-2007, 01:48 AM.
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                            • #29
                              Damn,why didn't I think of that? Quick,where's my suit? T.C.

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                              • #30
                                I carry two portables. One $200 Vertex 180 and a Kenwood. The Kenwood is dead about every other time I turn it on. POS!!! I stick a new battery in it as I crosss the floor in the AM and it's dead by afternoon with no use or even being on. This is with new batteries, old ones, newly conditioned ones, you name it. The Vertex? It goes about three weeks!!! 7 shifts plus a couple of off duty call ins and maybe a drill, and the $200 radio still works and has better features than the Kenwood. We had Motorolas but they priced themselves out of reality and those that have them have no better luck than we do with our Vertex's. And with we own the software for the Vertex and Kenwoods for pennies as compared to Motorola's software packages.
                                We are very close to our goal of every seating position having a radio. All career pesonnel have an assigned radio, all officers (FT and Vol.) have radios, well as carrying a spare in each ambulance and each engine. All FT officers have two portables, one for the dispatch freq and one for the working channel.

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