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  • POOR COMMUNICATIONS,RADIO EQUIPMENT

    my town is about 5 square mile small by comparison,as of now we have one frequency using standard radio to radio. this causes problems though because most communication is done through portable radios which cant be heard across town, and when command tries to relay a message through dispatch it takes them a while to repeat it if they repeat it at all. my idea is to install a repeater so all radio comminications can be heard all over town and then some. wondering for more ideas and what everyone else has

  • #2
    What band are you on? If it is low or high band you may want to try putting repeaters in the vehicles instead of just one for the entire area. This would allow you communication outside of the range of the portable by boosting the signal of the radio through the vehicle to the other person. It is kind of like having a mobile repeater that will not be more than the distance of your longest hose. Unless of course you are doing a search and rescue by foot in the middle of the woods.
    I guess the only problem I see here is that if you are outside the range of that fixed repeater say on a mutual aid call, you would not be able to use the portable to call back to your dispatcher if you needed to.
    There is an old saying from the comm guys in the Marines: You can talk bad about us, but you can't talk without us.

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    • #3
      Repeaters can be expensive...($1,500-$2,000) just for the repeater. Plus add the cost of reprogramming all your mobile units in the apparatus and your portable radios. There is not much else to do besides getting a repeater unless everyone buys a mobile radio to go into their personal vehicles.

      [This message has been edited by cmjones (edited 03-11-2001).]

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      • #4
        i run in area where 4 dept.s run closely together and had a difficult time talking. We are currently working on a grant for a repeater syestem between the four of us. the total cost is expected to be around $15,ooo for the dept.s (combined) most of it coming from the grant. i'll try to get some more exact info for you. if this does not seem feasible to you, you can try higher wattage units, it is a general rule 1 watt=1mile.

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        • #5
          sometimes you get caught up trying to talk all over the place on a handheld. we have recently put a kenwood mobile repeater in service. when it gets on scene (in the shift commander's vehicle, makes every run) he simply punches a button, you dial up the proper channel on your portable, and you are talking to the vehicle outside, and it talks to the world.
          for a 5 mile area, i would think a fixed repeater with good antenna site should do well. i like the idea of using the portable to talk to the outside of the building, where a stronger radio can talk to the rest of the folks.. it is scary when you get inside and find out you can't hit the repeater, and have no contact..

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          • #6
            Dispatch can't hear you over a 5 square mile area? Your dispatch center must be miles away. The cheapest and simplest way around this problem is a remote base for the dispatch center. They install a base station linked to their existing system from a high point in your district. We use them in our 586 square mile area and they are quite handy.
            We use a repeater for dispatch and most en route, but switch to simplex when on the scene. This keeps the repeater from being tied up, and we want on scene comms on simplex for safety since a FF inside a building may not be able to reach the repeater, but could talk with someone in the front yard. Command handles traffic via repeater with dispatch.
            Contact some of the ham radio operators in yur area and they may have some tips.

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            • #7
              Been there, done that, if you are having trouble communicating, and most of your traffic is handled using portables, a repeater is the only way to go. If you can afford it. If not well you really don't have a lot of options that I can see. My department now has a small repeater system, only 45 watts, but it covers our call area, about 50 sq miles pretty well, except for a few dead areas due to geography. Our dispatching however is done via county wide frequecny that has a very powerful repeater system. Fire ground communication is handled by simplex though, to avoid possible time lapse or not hitting repeater. My old dept only had simplex, and this was before the coutny wide dispatching. It was a pain. I could only communicate with units other than dispatch with a mobile radio, and I live about 6 miles from the station.

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              • #8
                our dispatch can hear us but since they are police and fire dispatchers they sometimes either ignore us or forget to relay because an officer is calling at the same time we are. you see were there priorities are.

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                • #9
                  postal79,

                  Contact a radio equipment vendor for suggestions. We had similar problems regarding dead spots in our coverage and looked into using repeaters.

                  After talking with the Engineers & Sales Rep.s it was decided that using these repeaters was going to create more potental problems & confusion than we have with the dead spots. Not to mention the cost.

                  Also - since we are stil operating on VHF Low Band - we opted to look into a whole new communications system sometime in the (hopefully) not to distant future.

                  Note - In this post "We" refers to the entire County of Franklin not singularly to Ferrum VFD.

                  I'm not saying a repeater isn't the answer for you, just make sure you have a good understanding of how it's going to affect your operation then decide if it's worth it.

                  I know that this description of our situation is very vague, so if you'd like more specific details or information please feel free to e-mail me.

                  Take Care - Stay Safe
                  Stephen
                  FF/Paramedic

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