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Pagers Voice vs Alpha ?????

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  • Pagers Voice vs Alpha ?????

    Does anyone know anything about pagers related to ISO ? We we're told that you dont get the "points" for alpha pagers because they are not real time. Thanks for any info about this, we are talking about making a change from alpha to Voice.....

  • #2
    Commercial service or proprietary?

    Commercial service, no you don't get the points.

    Service run by your own dispatch center, sure do.
    IACOJ Canine Officer
    20/50

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    • #3
      Yea, there is a big difference between buying a bunch of pagers and using Verizon or Airtouch or whoever and putting up your own paging transmitter and your own paging encoder.

      If you use a commercial service, you have no higher priority that "Come pick up the kids", "Meet me after class", or "Hey, that crack-cocaine you ordered is ready". If the system is backed up, so is your paging. If the system goes down, it gets fixed when their tech who may be 3 states away gets around to it. The sites may not even have backup power. Plus, when the feces is hitting the fan is when you need your pagers the most. It is also when EVERYONE ELSE uses them the most. This is absolutely wrong and dangerous to use for primary alerting. For that reason, it makes a very inefficiant secondary means. That is probably why ISO doesn't care about it.

      If you put up your own antenna, transmitter, encoder, and software, it is yours and only yours. Nothing else. When the dispatcher presses send, it goes out regardless of the traffic volume on Verizon and Airtouch's tower down the road. Your site is most likely gauranteed to have backup power and a radio service company that isn't 7 hours away. This is the only way to go if you use it for primary dispatching. If you have the money, i would do it this way for a secondary means of notification as well if you still use voice pagers.
      Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

      Comment


      • #4
        I tell you what, hindsight is a wonderful thing!

        Our department went from Tone Only pagers many years ago to the Alphanumerics and found a reduction in people turning out because they suddenly went from no information before the incident to all the details!

        We found that heaps of members were picking and choosing what jobs they went to, especially cold winter nights!

        If you use a commercial service, you have no higher priority that "Come pick up the kids", "Meet me after class", or "Hey, that crack-cocaine you ordered is ready". If the system is backed up, so is your paging. If the system goes down, it gets fixed when their tech who may be 3 states away gets around to it. The sites may not even have backup power. Plus, when the feces is hitting the fan is when you need your pagers the most. It is also when EVERYONE ELSE uses them the most. This is absolutely wrong and dangerous to use for primary alerting. For that reason, it makes a very inefficiant secondary means. That is probably why ISO doesn't care about it.
        Over here, I'll give credit where it is due- we have 3 levels of priorities on the paging system (Orange network) and a priority 1 page is exactly that- it goes straight to the front of the que for paging! Same goes for repairs. Surely your providers could set up the same?!
        Luke

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        • #5
          For public safety use you need to have a 100% reliable system. A third party paging service isn't it. If it were only for special callbacks then I'd say OK. We are full time and many of us get text messages on our NEXTEL to let us know about multiple alarm fires, Haz Mat, Dive, Technical rescue. The reason I consider that OK is that the on duty crew is there already and we are just back up and more manpower. We are not relied upon to take care of the emergency.

          As a secondary system sure, but not the primary means to get called out.

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          • #6
            Here in Montgomery County PA. We are dispatched by 9-1-1 on both Alpha and Voice. Anything after the inital dispatch is Alpha only.
            We get better notes and information that way. Plus with the Alphas you can have multiple call codes installed such as Dept All Call, Officers only, Fire Marshal only, Fire Police, QRS, and County can dispatch just one particular pager if need be. We also have a County All Call where they can dispatch every Dept in the County at the same time. This is used for NOAA Weather Alerts, Nuclear Plant Alerts, National Security Level changes etc.
            We have had this in place for the last 5 years and voice pagers will eventually be fazed out.
            For all the whackers you can have multiple depts on one pager(depending on the brand).
            This is all run by the County EOC so it is a closed system and we don't have to rely on third party providers.
            SAEPE EXPERTUS, SEMPER FIDELIS, FRATRES AETERNI
            "Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever"

            Once a Marine, Always a Marine

            I got the best of both worlds- Firefighter and Marine

            Comment


            • #7
              The pager company is the third party.

              A related story, my department used MCI/World Com for cellular service. One day the phones didn't work (because of world com going belly up) If a satalite goes down or relay has a power outage or just a mistake with their computer and you aren't going to get a call for help.
              With a regular voice system you can hear it go over the air, and a back up system is easy to set up (it can be out of a firehouse or someones home) Keep emergency communications simple

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              • #8
                There is no pager company. The County owns the system. All Alpha paging goes through their server. The only way we would not get an Alpha page is if the County lost all power. That is not very likely since they have multiple back ups.
                They didn't want to have to rely on other companies equipment malfunctions that is why they have their own servers, equipment etc.
                SAEPE EXPERTUS, SEMPER FIDELIS, FRATRES AETERNI
                "Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever"

                Once a Marine, Always a Marine

                I got the best of both worlds- Firefighter and Marine

                Comment


                • #9
                  That is quite the investment and the exception rather then the rule.
                  What is the range of the system?
                  How many transmitter towers do they own?
                  Any other details about the system?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I am not exactly sure how many towers there are but the County is 482 sq. mi. with 109 Companies covering it. The County is currently changing from low band radio system to 800mghtz Trunking. Police and EMS have already changed over for the most part and Fire will start changing over at the end of this year, at least that's the plan. There will be a couple of year faze in period since the radios are so expensive.
                    I spoke with a friend who works as a dispatcher and he says the Alpha paging goes off the nearest tower(just like voice) to the company being dispatched.
                    We have also found that with the Alphas we are able to recieve complete pages in some of our dead areas. Where with voice we would get an incomplete page or the pager would open but no dispatch would be heard.
                    Alphas do have their problems also. No volume control so if you are a sound sleeper you may not hear it at night. Currently we are using the Motorola Advisor Gold Series but Motorola has discontinued making these. These pagers are comparable to the MinitorII as far as reliability and workmanship. We have tried others such as PerComm(JUNK)we are sticking with what works-Motorola.
                    Some companies have the Alpha dispatch program in their company computer and as long as you can access the County server you can dispatch your own pagers.
                    SAEPE EXPERTUS, SEMPER FIDELIS, FRATRES AETERNI
                    "Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever"

                    Once a Marine, Always a Marine

                    I got the best of both worlds- Firefighter and Marine

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yup...

                      Jockey93..
                      I think you got it on Montco's system. I do believe that, once moved to the 800mhz system, they will simulcast fire dispatch/tones on the current low/high band dispatch frequencies. I hope they do this, because I use my Minitor I upstairs on my night stand to avoid the 'alpha pagers don't wake me' problems a lot of people have!! Even at 5 on the volume dial, the Min I "brick pager" has NO problems waking me up!

                      Stay Safe!

                      -Devil
                      Once again....the above views are my own and not that of my department. (And probably should not be construed as having any real meaning, whatsoever!)

                      IACOJ

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well, I can't for Traffic Jockey, ADSN, but I can tell you my experience from Connecticut.

                        Our dispatch center was the lead in developing a alphanumeric system on 152.0075. This frequency is used for both voice & alpha paging.

                        Voice pages go over the most appropriate (i.e. best coverage for the department) single tower, while alpha pages go over all the towers in the system simultaneously. The towers used are located on various hilltops in three or more counties, and are owned either by one of four major regional dispatch centers or the State Police.

                        (There is a technical difference between voice & data (alpha). Voice towers, to multicast, need to be in very tight synchronization or your message sounds garbled. However, data systems don't need that tight of synchronization, and in fact take advantage of slight timing differences for error correction! You can multicast voice effectively, or you can multicast data effectively, but you can't do both from the same set of transmitters)

                        My county, Windham, is up in the Northeast corner of the state. My pager doesn't work in my office, up in Worcester, MA, but if I'm in the men's room at work I get the pages -- and that's in a downtown office building at least 20 miles from the nearest transmitter.

                        Sunday evening I received a page while in Dutchess County, New York -- that's at least 60 miles from the nearest transmitter I know of and some 100 miles from home, and made me suspicious (not yet confirmed) that Litchfield County in Connecticut may have a transmitter up on the alpha system.

                        Pretty much you can count on the system to provide public-safety class coverage to the eastern half of Connecticut, and a fair amount of the state west of the river as well.
                        IACOJ Canine Officer
                        20/50

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Trafficjockey93
                          We have also found that with the Alphas we are able to recieve complete pages in some of our dead areas. Where with voice we would get an incomplete page or the pager would open but no dispatch would be heard.
                          Many alpha paging transmitters can be in the neighborhood of 1,000+ Watts. A lot of other factors such as the band and antenna height come into play.
                          Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Our Alpha's operate on the 154 mhz band. As far as our towers go our county is divided into sectors and if I'm not mistaken there are repeaters in every sector. They also use cellular towers as part of their network. Instead of having two towers in the same area they have one with a dual purpose. They had alot of problems with the 800 system when it first came online, alot of dead areas, and have been adding towers to compensate for this. Also there are some Police vehicles that have vehicle repeaters installed in them which will help when everybody is on the same system. We had a local Police Dept that would be on a call and would be in sight distance of each other but could not talk on the 800 system. Kept getting the "No Service" signal. Talk about scary.
                            Dalmatian, Thanks for the lesson. Learned something new.
                            nmfire, you too. Thanks
                            SAEPE EXPERTUS, SEMPER FIDELIS, FRATRES AETERNI
                            "Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever"

                            Once a Marine, Always a Marine

                            I got the best of both worlds- Firefighter and Marine

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Dal, I've heard about your system up there. I am jelous.
                              Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

                              Comment

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