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F/F-down Button/Feature - Portable Radios

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  • F/F-down Button/Feature - Portable Radios

    I am looking for input and your comments on the following - a) do you utilize your F/F-down/emergency button on your portable radios? b) if you do, does the radio remain on your FG/tactical channel or does it automatically switch to a main dispatch channel or different frequency? c) how does the F/F-down/emergency activation get acknowledged and/or monitored? Does the notification come up at the command post and/or at your dispatch center? and d) do you even have your F/F-down/emergency button enabled? Thank you for your input.
    GRC063

  • #2
    We have companies that use it all the time. It's how we know that 'truck X' is at the scene ;-)


    Kidding aside. With a trunked radio system, the EA feature doesn't really care about channels. It pre-empts all traffic and then it depends on how it is programed as to which talk-groups play the EA content. Ours displays the device identifier at dispatch and everyone hears the transmission on the fireground talk-groups. If there is no audible mayday transmission dispatch i reads ithe EA back over the air: 'truck X officer radio you have an EA, your status?' We are slated to get new base station equipment and in the future the EA along with GPS location is supposed to display on the command PCs in the chiefs vehicles . Not sure yet how that'll be implemented.

    The ability of the EA to lock up the tac channel can be a problem if more than one activation occurs and now dispatch tries their readback spiel. The IC just gets 'honked out' when he tries to take action, e.g. direct the RIT to a location/floor. Some systems are set to use a separate emergency talk-group that is monitored by the IC, dispatch and the RIT supervisor.
    Last edited by Too_Old; 01-26-2019, 11:19 AM.

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    • #3
      Too Old is spot on with what a trunked system can do.

      Having a radio go to a different talkgroup for an EA is probably the best option, in my opinion. On the trunked system I administered, we came close to losing a couple of LE officers. The way the radios were programmed at the time, the radio would have locked up with the mic on for 20 seconds on the current channel. Two officers got disarmed and held at gunpoint. Had one understood that the EA button had to be held for 2 full seconds to activate, she and her partner might well have been dead, as the feedback might have tipped off their assailant that the activation had occurred.

      This was early in the implementation of the system - the two second issue has been resolved/trained.

      As noted, tying up the active tac channel is going to be a bad thing. Designating a separate TG for EA's (easily done) that dispatch will monitor, and that the RIT can go to would be the best option.

      Using it should be part of RIT training for everyone - possibly including an EA during daily radio checks. Practice like you fight.
      Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

      Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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      • #4
        Ideally, it should play the EA and the open mic on the tac channel, but it shouldn't lock out others from talking on that channel. For situational awareness, you want everyone on the fireground to hear a mayday, you dont want it to lock out everyone else (IC or attack group supervisor) from using the tac channel to mount a response.

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        • #5
          Once the Mayday has been heard and acknowledged the IC may decide to order a new tac channel for members and units engaged in fighting the fie. The rescue group/FAST group can remain on the original tac channel and address the mayday.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by captnjak View Post
            Once the Mayday has been heard and acknowledged the IC may decide to order a new tac channel for members and units engaged in fighting the fie. The rescue group/FAST group can remain on the original tac channel and address the mayday.
            Understood. That's how it is done in most places. The problem is when multiple EAs go off and the IC can't get a word in between the EAs and dispatch following their protocol challenging each one.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Too_Old View Post

              Understood. That's how it is done in most places. The problem is when multiple EAs go off and the IC can't get a word in between the EAs and dispatch following their protocol challenging each one.
              We are lucky in that dispatch is on a seperate frequency.

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