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Unit #'s & 10 Codes

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  • Unit #'s & 10 Codes

    I'm amazed at all the different numbering scemes out there (we have County #'s that are not used and our mutual aid #'s that are used). Our County # is 172, 172 engine 1, 172 engine 2, 172 ladder 1, 172 F1, F2, F3, and F4. Ambulance 11A and 11B (also our rescue). Our Mutual Aid is Station 10, E11, E12, L113, A14, R15, Chief 16, 17, 18, and 19. Anybody care to share theirs? For any further info on the system our County uses click on our homepage which can be found at the bottom of this post (cheap plug), I have both the "official lists", 10 code lists, and the Lists actually in use by the units in the County. On a secondary subject as well: Plain language vs. codes, your opinions??? I seem to be outvoted on this one so far. I prefer all codes and #'s. What do you think???

    Edwardsville Emergency Services, Station 10
    We came, we saw, WE KICKED IT'S ***!!!

  • #2
    This topic in it's original form is posted in the Meet and Greet section of the forum, I'm also posting it here as well to see what kind of a response it gets here since it seems to be a topic that was fairly well received over there.

    Edwardsville Emergency Services, Station 10
    We came, we saw, WE KICKED IT'S ***!!!


    • #3
      First of all, your numbers would confuse me. In my dept, we use unit numbers such as eng. 1, tanker 1, rescue 1, etc. And our members and officers use numbers, too. Such as 1501, 1502, 1503, etc.

      We also use the 10-code system. But we've also agreed that if we can't remember the number, just say what we mean. I say what i mean. I think it's easier to say responding than it is to say 10-6 or 10-8, or whatever the individual dept uses.

      I regards to my first paragraph, I know of depts that also assign three or four digit numbers to their trucks, too. Such as 304, or 305.

      Hope this helps you out.


      • #4
        I don't think that the 10-codes are recognized by the FCC. Personally I think that 10-codes cumbersome and unprofessional. With 10-codes you need to memorize the codes, and know when to properly use them. With the use of plain english, everyone on the air knows exactly what you mean....its that simple, and simple (along with short) is important when communicating via radio. Granted that slang such as "On the job" is unprofessional (but it sounds cool) and not everyone on the air may not know what you mean, but at least you dont have to relearn a second langauge to use a radio. Thats just my two cents.


        • #5
          Keep in mind that the incident command system uses Plain English. Keeps the confusion to a minimum.

          Stay Safe.
          You asked for my opinion, now you have it. It's mine and mine only. Any similarity to another opinion...living or dead...is purely coincidental.


          • #6
            I'm with 9m18 on this one!

            The National Wildfire Coordinating Group(NWCG) Incident Management System states that their will be no 10 codes and the Plain English will be used when transmitting.


            • #7
              I wish the NWCG and the CDF wouldn't have run ramshod over the US fire service, but it's our own damn fault for laying down and letting them tell us how to do our jobs. Ten codes were wrong thinking developed by the police departments years ago when radios were first introduced. Ten codes are antiquated and cumbersome and the national trend is to phase them out. There are still cases where codes not commonly known to the general public are of use (mental patients comes to mind), but I remember entire sentences in ten codes back in the eighties (Engine 191 10-8, 10-24, 10-19 - in service, assignment complete, returning to quarters).

              I had an assistant chief one time request an additional 10-52 thinking he was getting a second tow truck. Dispatch confirmed that he was requesting an ambulance his location? He switched to plain english.

              Probably the best use of ten codes I've found is with my dispatcher wife. We use them on our numerical pagers to communicate. Since we know the codes for enroute, arrival, disregard, etc., we can pack a lot of info into a digital pager.


              • #8
                One13Truck, "clear text" is really the best way to communicate on the fireground. This has nothing to do with NWFCG or any other group. It is common sense. Could you imagine the chaos when several mutual aid counties respond to a large incident and start trying to use different 10-codes? You get the idea. If you work on any large wildland incident that involves the USFS, BLM NPS, or most state forest agencies, you will be using clear text, or no one will talk to you. As for equipment numbering, each department will probably have their own system, and then when they go to a large wildland incident, they will be under a 4 digit strike team number, or single resource number, assigned under the Incident command system. As for the one response that says the FCC might not recognize 10-codes, that only applies to the amateur radio system.
                Just my opinion.
                Be safe. The dragon lurks!!!


                • #9
                  Too many numbers!
                  When I was young and green,I liked 10 Codes because radio traffic was cool to me then. Now that my priorities have changed from whats cool to whats practical and safe, I'm liking the plain English method better.On our job,misunderstandings can kill us. Codes leave room for error. In my area, we recognize either now, and will most likely phase out codes.

                  In the southeast, apparatus are designated by Station number, and unit type. For instance, pumpers are 1's,2's,3's,and 4's. So the first due pumper from Station 5 would be known as 51. Or, if 292 checks enroute, you know that it's Station 29, 2nd due.
                  Thanks and stay safe.



                  • #10
                    There's nothing wrong, indeed some benifits, to using codes for routine administrative messages in your local area.

                    Codes where originally developed not to conceal the message, but transmit it in a compact form to reduce the length of transmission -- you know, back in the days when fires could be put out without the benifits of four fireground channels or trunked radios

                    Codes also convey a SPECIFIC message that may not be present with plain-text. When you say "53" in my area, it means your responding to the call. Is it the same as "On the Air", "Enroute", "In Service", "Responding" -- probably, but you don't need to choose which plain english to use. We have maybe half a dozen Signals used regularly for routine messages, and these are pretty consistent for this half of the state so departments do understand each other. Most of the less used forty odd signals we have, just go over in english know.

                    Which brings up the simple point that plain english ain't plain english unless you have already agreed to definitions in advance -- witness the great Tanker/Tender debate, or for that matter that "Out of Service" at one department means the truck is operating a call and thus unavailable for another call, while Out of Service at another department means the truck is broken down.


                    • #11
                      O.K. - I'm not going to "vote" in the which is better 10 codes or plain text debate. Both have benifits and drawbacks. Bottom line is use what works best for you.

                      As for the numbering Scheme -

                      All Apparatus here are named based on type of truck & station number.
                      Ex. Engine 3, Tanker 5, Mini-Pumper 2, Brush 7, Pumper12, etc.

                      Ambulance are done this way as well. "Med" units are ALS and "Rescue" units are BLS. Hence names would be Med 3, Rescue 1, Med 3B, etc.

                      Personal radio numbers are 3 to 5 digit numbers.

                      First digit is either a 2 for Rescue or 3 for Fire, next come the station or district number, followed by the individual unit number (which in most cases is asigned in no great order)

                      So - "Firefighter #12" from station 7 would have a radio number of 3-7-12, while "EMT #27" from station 10 would be 2-10-27 and so on.

                      Take Care - Stay Safe


                      • #12
                        I know that FDNY uses the codes religeously. Just curious of what some of NYC's bravest think of the 10-codes...anyone got their opinion?


                        • #13
                          In Camden County the county assigned every town a fire district number ours happens to be 18 and we are station 3 (no there isn't a station 1 or 2 the 3 was a compromise when the to original companys merged in 1976) So our apparatus is numbered: ENGINE 1832, ENGINE 1833, LADDER 1834, RESCUE 1835.
                          And County Communications has nixed the 10 codes and streamlined every thing. So we get dispatched as Station 18-3, or Engine 18-3. And when talking to county or on radio you use just plain English like "Camden County, Engine 1833 responding to __________ for a _________."

                          The statements above are my own opinions

                          FF Greg Grudzinski
                          Oaklyn Fire Dept.
                          Station 18-3


                          • #14
                            While going through the Firefighter I & II course just recently we had a subject of communications and the essentials book advised not to use the 10 codes cause they are confusing. Even the instructor recommended plain english.

                            We use four digit numbers to recognize our departments and units,I.E. 1600 is the station call numbers and 1650 would be an engine from that station.

                            *these thoughts are solely mine.


                            • #15
                              Dalmation --

                              You make a great point about definitions.

                              The out of service / in service one that definitely varies.

                              I listen to guys say they are in service but to them that means they have pulled the unit out of the door and are waiting to staff it. While to others, if they say in service that means the wheels are turning and they are going to the job.

                              The Out of Service one gets me to since some will say Out of service upon returning to the station meaning they are done with the call and ready for the next. To me, if I call my unit Out of Service at the station that means I am back at the station but not available for a job. I may need to fill cylinders, whatever, but I am Out of Service.

                              I guess you are right and it will go on forever like the Tanker/Tender, Volunteer/Career and all the other never ending Fire Service debates!


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