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    Does anyone know the specifics of the incident that changed the way fire department tone out there departments. Many departments now tone out on a different frequency from the frequency that they operate on. I remember it being mentioned in a class I took years ago, but dont have any information on it.

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    i dont know about the incident you are talking about, but we do operate on a "talk-around" frequency when on scene so we do not tie up our primary frequency. other departments have a "fireground" or "tac" channel they talk on when on scene.
    2009 Warren County Firefighter of the Year

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    • #3
      I also do not know of any specific incident but I can think of plenty of scenarios which would prompt such a change.

      We have different freqs for dispatch, response and fireground. I will hold back details unless specifically requested,
      You only have to be stupid once to be dead permanently
      IACOJ Power Company Liason
      When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution
      and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy. - Dave Barry.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by TVFDT141 View Post
        Does anyone know the specifics of the incident that changed the way fire department tone out there departments. Many departments now tone out on a different frequency from the frequency that they operate on. I remember it being mentioned in a class I took years ago, but dont have any information on it.

        Thanks in advance!

        I believe it was in the mid to late 80's in New Jersey. Took place at an automobile repair/body shop. Fire caused collaspe of the ceiling on two firefighters. Nobody onscene knew what was happening but responding mutal aid picked it up.

        Is that what you are refering to? A major recommendation from that fire was having seperate fireground and dispatch frequencies.
        Co 11
        Virginia Beach FD

        Amateurs practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they cannot get it wrong. Which one are you?

        'The fire went out and nobody got hurt' is a poor excuse for a fireground critique.

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        • #5
          I believe doc is correct. It was the HACKENSACK FORD Alarm#1177 July 1, 1988.

          Here is an article about the investigation after the incident:

          "THE HACKENSACK FIRE RADIO COMMUNICATION ISSUE

          Roger L. Boyell (http://www.boyell.com) performs forensic consulting and provides court testimony in electronic devices and systems. This is his analysis of the radio communication circumstances associated with a major fire in a car dealership in Hackensack NJ.

          Three firemen were trapped in an upstairs storeroom, calling by handheld radios to other firemen fighting the fire throughout the building. The other personnel on the scene were continually in contact with each other. But none of them responded to the repeated calls from the trapped firemen.

          At the firehouse a mile away, the master tape recorder clearly recorded all the calls to and from every portable, mobile, and base radio involved, including every (unanswered) call made from radios carried by the trapped firemen. The tape bears all their push-to-talk transmissions, and even their backpacks "out-of-air" warning bells are audible in the later playback.

          The firemen’s bodies were found after the fire. Their partially burned portable radios were examined by the manufacturer’s representative, with no conclusive results. Local and state investigators tried to attribute the communication failure to shielding, to interference, to human error, and to equipment malfunction. No satisfactory explanation was forthcoming.

          Then a lawyer for one of the firemen’s families called Boyell. After extensive analysis he found incorrect channel-selection crystals in their portable radios.

          Each hand-held radio and some mobile radios had capacity for four channels, of which only the first two were used by their department. When switched to F1 they operated on the general department frequency, and when switched to F2 they operated on the alternate frequency which was employed only by an on-scene crew for local firefighting coordination.

          However, he found that the firemen’s hand-held radio F2 transmit crystals had been substituted by F1 crystals. Thus the trapped firemen received all the communications from the scene but, unknowingly, were transmitting on the general channel, to which the on-scene crew was not then listening. The error had not surfaced previously, because never before was every member of the department (except the master tape recorder) locked onto F2."
          Last edited by THEFIRENUT; 02-13-2007, 05:44 AM.
          Just someone trying to help! (And by the way....Thanks for YOUR help!)

          Aggressive does not have to equal stupid.

          ** "The comments made here are this person's views and possibly that of the organizations to which I am affiliated" **

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          • #6
            Awesome! Thank you for all your help. We are looking at possibly toning out on our operating frequency. As of right now we are dispatched on a separate frequency.

            Thanks again!

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            • #7
              Hopefully I can still add to this.

              We tone out on a high band frequency and communicate on the 800 mhz frequency.

              With the 800 mhz we have Fire, EMS, 4 "tac" channels, and then each department has their own "private channel" for communications.

              We actually did this because in 2000 we had one of the worst brush fires in our district. We had over 35 agencies respond with us, even airport crash trucks. (Sidenote* we had this fire in a huge pine forest, drought conditions, low humidity, and it was in a rural but over 400 homes were in the way of the fire)

              We had so much communication problems that they county board of supervisors worked and every dept in the county, along with PD and SO are on our 800 mhz system. With their own channels and then everyone has the main fireground, ems, and private channels. We even have the surrounding counties and they have us. So basically our entire area can communicate with each other which I see as pretty good. Except we've developed the habit of immediately going to our private channel while the officer will stay on "tac" and the IC will monitor all and stay on fire channel to communicate to dispatch. It works extremely well but if we get trapped or something only people with our dept will hear it...unless we change channel.

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              • #8
                I will add our own version of this as long as the thread is meandering that way....

                We are dispatched on TapOut, a high band frequency which our Minitors find agreeable. Dispatch at this time also assigns us a tactical channel to use upon arrival.

                All vehicles respond on FireCom, an 800Mhz channel. Dispatch keeps track of all responding units for times. All responding units stay on FireCom until....

                As soon as the first unit arrives on scene, IC is established and orders all units to switch over to the assigned 800Mhz tactical channel. Everyone in route switches over to the tactical channel. Units that respond after that point do so on FireCom and then immediately switch to the tactical channel.

                TapOut is kept free of clutter so that further dispatches are not delayed.

                FireCom is kept free of clutter so that Dispatch can keep track of responding units (and those in service).

                For times, dispatch only wants to know when the first unit arrived. As for other units, they only need to know that they are responding. Switching over to the assigned tac right away makes getting your assignment from Command easier.

                The Incident Commander monitors the tactical channel as well as FireCom. If things get busy, we can also request a dedicated dispatcher to move to our tactical channel to babysit things with the IC.

                All members carry alphanumeric pagers for response and situation updates that are on the 800Mhz band and not picked up by the Minitors. Sure is nice to have addresses on that thing. We also use them for apparatus service updates, drill announcements, etc.

                When I started, I thought this was too much channel switching for a single incident, but now I swear by it. I love the fact that when the radio speaks, it is always relevant. No filtering out unrelated clutter.
                You only have to be stupid once to be dead permanently
                IACOJ Power Company Liason
                When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution
                and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy. - Dave Barry.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I appreciate all the information. I think the last I can do is explain where the question is coming from. I belong to a volunteer department that responds to approx. 3800 to 4000 calls a year. We are dispatched out of a county dispatch center which provides services for 26 or so agencies. Everyone of these agencies is dispatched on the same low band frequency, except a handful (2-3). My particular department operates on its own low band frequency. The remainder of the 26 agencies are spread out amongst 3 to 4 other frequencies. It is my understanding that we may start toning out on our operation frequency. But something had told me that departments stopped doing this for a reason. I am not sure that those making the possible decisions are aware of instances which have gone against this method.

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