Portable Radios- One For Each Crew Member or Do You Have to Share Them?

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.

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At Lockheed Martin FD, we each have our own radios. At Benbrook FD, there are 4 on each engine and ladder, 1 on each box and brush truck.
Yep, I agree with Bobby, we also have the Vertex Radios (VX-180's) and in the summer you may be able to reach our dispatcher (about 20 miles away) and in winter or thunderstorms you may not be able to talk from one end of a block to the other. Vertex is cheaper than a pager but there is a reason why. I have an Icom mobile radio in my truck and it's great for me, I have never had an Icom portable, however I have talked to many that have and do and they love them. I am a big fan of that old saying "You get what you pay for."
We are a small vol. dept with limited funds, so we issue radios to our active members. everyone else has a pager only.

Be Safe!
My dept. issues a portable radio to all new hires when they issue all the other gear. So every one on the dept. has one. We are'nt a huge dept, three stations with 21 per crew and three crews. Its all about working the system to your advantage. If you put in for a grant for anything, include a communications section. We put a grant in for new airpacks a few years ago. When the final bids came in, the highest bid was still less than the amount that we got. The government said that as long as the the money that was left over was spent on equipment related to airpacks, or communications equipment ( i.e; portable radios ), all of the money could still be spent. This allowed us to get a new bottle fill station with a six bottle cascade system, and new portable radios for all of our members at the time. Its also advantagous to seek profesional help when applying for grants, and being realistic about what you are applying for. Apparatus is always a long shot in grants. Turnouts, airpacks, communications, education, fitness, are always better bets. The money is there, you just have to find it.
Our Department went from Kenwood to 800 MGhz and updated from portable scanners to Pagers.. It has really improved the communication in the department. In Sugar City which is 5 miles away the only ones that have Portable Radios are the Chief, Captian, Asst Chief, Luitenant, and the Engineers. They all pagers and the Engines are equiped with Radios as for the other Firefighters they have to reponde if avalible... Due to not having a radio...
On My department the officers are the only one that have portable radios.
We are an average size volunteer, rural fire company. We have spent the last several years and grants purchasing new radios. We are to the point that almost all interrior guys have a radio plus we have a spare on our trucks for exterior. I support having a radio with every and all interrior guy not just 1 per crew. I will not go in without my radio. This is our lifeline...

Jackie McManus
training officer
We are a small volunteer dept. All officers are assigned portables, plus all officer seats and scba seats have portables, that way no ff is left without a portable anytime they are in an IDLH atomsphere. For several years only our officers had radios. It took me several years to convince the ooficers at that time that we needed to have portables on all ff that were wearing scba's. we occomplished this about 6 years ago. The only issue we had with doing this were ff's that spent to much time on the radio with unneccesary radio traffic. I beleive that no ff should be without a portable if they are operating in an IDLH atomsphere. This is poor practice by any chief that allows this to happen, Someday they will regret it.
We all got portable radios issued to each FF 2 years ago through a grant. They are digital and work out pretty good. They have the emergency 'Mayday' buttons and your name will come up on everyones screen any time you key the mic.
We have about 18 members all of witch were issued a portable when they passed a first responder course...its a good thing and a bad thing....we have members that use them right and we have a few that all they wanna do is talk on the radio and not do any of the real work on a scene.
Again, that's where your F.D. needs a clear policy on radio usage.
I'm from a pretty good sized volunteer dept:

1. Each engine carries at least 1 radio per seat. Everyone is encouraged to carry a radio, esp. if it's not medical. That way everyone can hear updates, or the crew as a whole can monitor different frequencies, etc. However, only the crew leader actually talks on the radio, unless the crew gets split for some reason (1 person requested elsewhere or something).

2. All trained members get pagers that will show location, type of emergency, and alarm level when a call is received.

3. Longer term members will get an older radio (one that is no longer used on scenes because not as good as the new ones... not watertight, don't hold a charge as long, etc.). They are used to notify the on-call command officer if you are responding so the IC can get an idea of how many people are going to what stations. Also has the dispatch so the person can listen to a more detailed update. Those without radios just respond to the nearest station and call IC from the station radio.

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