Several months ago, my F.D. updated our portable radios so that each seating position had it's own portable radio. We were able to do this due to a grant. This ensures that each crew member on that rig has his/her own radio. This has greatly improved safety and communication. I was just wondering what other F.D's, (from big city to small town) are doing.
WE ARE ALSO VFD, 2 DAYS AGO WE HAD A CHIMMNEY FIRE, MY PARTER AND I PACKED UP & WENT UP THE LADDER TO THE ROOF, NO RADIO'S I MINE YOU, THE LADDER TRUCK ONLY HAS 1 PORTABLE RADIO & 5 SEATS, SO THE RADIO WENT TO THE C.O., SO I HAD TO YELL DOWN TO EVERYBODY TO GIVE THEM UPDATES. SO FIQURE THAT OUT ABOUT SAFETY ! MY PARENTS WILL HAVE THIER HOUSE PAID OFF AND A SUMMER HOME.
I come from a volunteer dept of about 20. Cheif, Assit Cheif, 2 Fire Capt, and 2 EMS Capt, have radio's assigned to them. (Being one of the EMS captain's I perffer to carry a pager and just have the handheld accessible, the pagers are smaller and less cumbersome) But we also have 10 handhelds available at the station for any responding personal. That is more than enough for the hose men, any interior crew, pump operator to have axcess to a handheld. Every truck is also equiped with a radio. We find by issuing only officers with the portable handhelds this cuts back on any non essential traffic unrelated to the fire/medical scene. Once a firefighter responds to the station. They are more than welcome to grab one of the 10 hat are sitting here.
WE ARE A MUNICIPAL FIRE DEPT AND EVERY ONE OF MY GUYS HAS A HANDHELD RADIO ISSUED TO THEM WHEN THERE EQUIPMENT IS CHECKED OUT..GOOD THING IS NONE OF THEM HAVE AN EXCUSE FOR NOT BEING ABLE TO COMMUNICATE ON FIRE GROUND OPERATIONS, AND IT ALLOWS ME AS A CHIEF TO REAM SOME BUTTS IF THEY DONT HAVE IT ON THEM...LOL..
All of our officers have radios plus one on each apparatus so that the firefighter on the nozzle also has a radio. The problem we have is actually using them on a structure fire. Some do and some don't. We are starting to train with them while wearing an SCBA. We have actually found some were not working properly so this was a huge help. One step at a time.
be carful with the vertex radios, a friend on a neighboring dept had one and could hardly reach from one side of the fire ground to the other. my dept has a varity of radios from ritron patirots (my favorite, very ff proof) to the newest ones are ICOMs not sure on the model but they have the narrow band and alot more bells and whistles and channels than we could use but they were bought via a grant.
you also may want to try homeland security or FEMA for grants for radios. I think our radio grant came from one of those. the feds are really supporting comm updates in case of disasters, the ones we got cost around $1500 and have over 200 channels. No we don't need or will ever use that many but in order for the grant you have to have certain new Mutual Aid channels. So if another 'Katrina' was to hit, a couple of us could go down and be able to have communications with all the feds there.
the only problem with oly getting a hand held for each seat in the apperatice is that you have to catch a truck to get one. our dept has about 30 on the roster and about 15-20 active. each person has a radio, no pagers cause they cost about the same don't moniter many channels and most of all you can't talk on them.
with that said let me explain something that may help you; I live on the north boundry of our area, about 6 miles north of town. i don't ever catch a truck, but we have had a number of calls on the north end that i have arrived on scene only a min or two after hearing the pumper go in route. Now i was able to advise wether we could cancel the tanker and reduce the pumper to non emergency response, or advise to get everybody in the county headin that way.
Why was I able to do this? It was because I had a radio and was properly trained to use it.
Now when there is calls south of town, the pumper is gone, but i can radio ahead to see if I need to get another piece of apperatuse (i.e. tanker, mini pumper, second or third brush buggy) or just sit at station and relay to county from scene. I hope this helps you brian and let me know if i can do anything else.