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  • 800 mhz Radio Systems

    I am looking for any complaints about 800mhz systems that are already in place and what you did about them. Are you having any penetrating into buildings? Are you getting busy signals often? Any complaints will be helpful.

  • #2
    We've had 800 megs for the last few years. The provider of the equipment did a test prior to delivering the new radios and there were only a couple of areas in our city (75,000 people)where a poor signal was encountered; the areas were usually subbasements in a copuple of very large structures.
    Overall, the system works fine. There are at this time only a couple of other businesses that use 800, but for us, we automatically get priority over transmitting and never had a problem with a "busy" signal.

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    • #3
      We have had an 800 mhz for over a couple of years now. The radios have caused many headaches,busy signals, and the inability to transmit. So much so that many officers carry their cell phone with them . I have seen doezens of letters of complaint written, I was told that the number of complaint letters is over 100. The radios that we were given are not designed for emergency use. ( finnaly admited by city officials after a nearly year long "investigation" into problem) They are impsible to use with gloves, some channel changes are done by a key pad that doesnt light unless you hit the right button. Others are changed by using the top switch. It was foung that by placing the radio in a holder underneath our turnout coat reduces the signal strenth by 50%. Also the batteries last for only half a shift if your lucky, and give very little warning before they die.

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      • #4
        Our city got an 800 system about 4 or 5 years ago and it`s caused nothing but problems. It`s a GE system. The portable radios are huge, heavy and have about 100 channels that no one uses. The downtown paid fire department used the 800 frequencies, and switches to a fire ground once on the scene. We don`t use that system, when we`re at a scene we stay on the channel used to dispatch calls. This frequency works fine, and we never have problems. When we go downtown, we`ll switch to their radio channels, we aren`t idiots, but when they come to our district, they refuse to switch their radios, which has caused huge headache`s at fire scenes.

        So, we have a total of 3 mics in our rigs. The first for our frequency, the second for theirs, the third for their fire ground. It`s a mess.

        So to get into the other problems. When we first got the system, there were 4 fire grounds and a direct radio to radio frequency. Because we should have 5 towers, rather then the 2 we`ve got, the regular grounds don`t work. So, everything needed to be re-programmed to make all fire grounds radio to radio.

        This July, they had a working fire in a 3 story apartment complex, 2 guys lost their way inside, and tried like 10 times to get help, the radios didn`t work. But, nothing has been done because no one wants a radio tower in their backyard, and the city refuses to pay for any kind of fixes.

        So, all the 800 system has been, is a big extremely confusing mess. If your going to get one, plan for everything.

        PFDE4, looks like we`ve got a similiar problem.

        [ 11-08-2001: Message edited by: BFD45 ]

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        • #5
          Our county dispatch system switched to a Motorola trunked 800 mhz digital system about a year ago. I believe, but am not certain, that there are about 10 underlying channels. It is used by fire, police, public works, etc. There are about 30 fire/ems agencies, with 1-4 stations each, about 20 police agengies with typically 50 units out at a given time, and about the same number of public works agencies. The county is hilly, and ranges from suburban with light industry to rural. By and large, the system works extremely well. There have been only two problems:
          1. a very few dead spots.
          2. 15-30 second delays in obtaining a channel during periods of extreme use, e.g. county wide storms with many simultaneous calls.

          The only other issue was the newsmedia complained because there is no commercially available scanner to monitor this system and they don't want to spend the $5K to buy a radio to monitor traffic.
          Proud to be honored with IACOJ membership. Blessed by TWO meals cooked by Cheffie - a true culinary goddess. Expressing my own views, not my organization's.

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          • #6
            The 800 system is pretty much becoming a standard in public safety. There is really not much choice in the matter. I have worked with 800 systems in 3 different states. Two of them have been Motorola and one was GE. I like the Motorola better, but that is just personal preference.

            The 800's have some dead spots...no doubt about that. The first system I worked with was in Virginia. The city was in a valley. Though we did have some dead spots there were different repeater towers that we could switch to if we hit a bad spot. Sometimes way out you would lose a signal. The second system was in Nebraska. I don't really remember any problems there. It was very reliable. Now, I am back in an area with hills but rarely lose a signal outside.

            Buildings will kill a signal. I have noticed sitting in the ER a crew can walk a foot in either direction and lose the signal. The bigger the building or thicker the walls the more likely it will happen.

            Can that be a big problem? Sure. However, the benefits of an 800 system are worth it. You can get enough channels to talk to each other without tying up a main channel. Multiple agencies can use a system. Where I am now Police, Fire, EMS, Emergency management, city departments and such can share the system and talk to each other if necessary. In fact, we are able to divide the city into areas so dispatch can use a channel just for south or north.

            Also, the emergency function of the systems is definitely welcome. Here if someone hits the emergency button not only is the radio channel locked to dispatch, but the screens on all the radios on the system show the radio ID of those declaring an emergency. I think that helps you feel like you're not alone.
            " The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." - Samuel Johnson

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            • #7
              Stay tuned here. I've got a "breaking story" that I'll post links for as soon as I get them. It happened earlier today and they did a news story on it, but I haven't found a "written" story yet. It happened today, 11/10/2001 somewhere in the state of Delaware (my wife didn't hear where). Right now I can't really confirm anything. It was possibly an 800Mhz failure and several firefighters almost died. I believe there may have been at least one civilian fatality.

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              • #8
                there was a worker and the radios failed about four times, there were about 4 firefighters trapped briefly on second floor, there was a civilian death but not due to the radio failures. however the failures did pay a critical roll on putting it out. a few months ago we had a similar fire where a civilian died and two firefighters were trapped. in both situations the trapped firefighters could not call for help. we are always having problems with them going "digital". in my opinion i dont like them at all.
                Thanks,
                Scottie Schmidt JR (junior fire fighter

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                • #9
                  In reference to the Delaware incident, this may help...
                  http://www.delawareonline.com/newsjo...ntfirefig.html

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                  • #10
                    Unfortunately, the digital trunked 800 MHz (and soon 700 MHz as well) seems to be the technology of the future. Its genesis stemmed from the lack of available radio channels, due to the proliferation of all sorts of wireless communication. It does not work well in large buildings, and does not work AT ALL below grade in buildings (unless equipped with active or passive antennae). What it theoretically does provide is a better usage of available frequencies. But if you can only use them effectively outside, what good are they to the fire service?

                    swr88, I agree that the emergency button is a desirable feature. However, if you are in a location where the digital signal does not penetrate (LIKE IN THE BASEMENT OF A BUILDING ON FIRE), the emergency feature is totally worthless.

                    In my dream world, there would be a sufficient spectrum of radio frequencies to allow all public safety entities to use conventional channels for more effective (read: SAFE) communications. We could then leave the digital trunked 800 MHz radio systems to public works and taxi companies.

                    Unfortunately, I keep waking up from my dreams and have to confront reality.

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