The problem is to much traffic on main channel, We are considering doing fire sene assignment from Tach channel apon arrivel. Mabe some Fire ground Officers can give some feed back on how you all do your dispatch.


Thx, Derrick G. Plyler (Firefighter)

Gooches VFD



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When we arrive on a fireground, all crews switch to a tach channel right away. The only person on the fireground to stay on the channel to communicate with dispatch is the officer who has command on scene, all other crews remain on a tach channel.  

yea we are doing that with personel, I was considering the in coming trucks sould they be asigned for main ch or tach due to rang of no repeater tach channel we are a high call dept an need a way keeping taffic low as possible on main channel


We are dispatched by a regional dispatch center on our own dispatch channel. (My FD owns the frequency)  We are then assigned a state tactical frequency by the dispatcher for our specific incident.  If we have a large scale incident, we can request additional tactical frequencies for water supply, etc.  This will free up the radio traffic for the fireground operation.  When working on the fireground we are not listening, competing with dispatch or other responding units for air time all on one frequency. Incident command will monitor the dispatch channel for communications for dispatch or use it to upgrade an alarm. Standard stuff. 


We simply couldn't do it all on one channel. It is the best way to operate for better communications and safety.  You can listen to our simul-cast dispatch via the internet at



Right now we go to channel 2 when on scene and for big scene's is still to much chatter. In a couple months when we switch over to the new radio system we will be assigned a tact channel from dispatch this way we will not tie up the main channel and the department up the road can run a scene and we wont be talking over each other.

We have 8 channels that are owned by the County, who does all of our dispatching.  Calls are dispatched on channel 1.

For working fires we utilize the other channels thus:

Channel 2 - water supply, tanker operations, fill site comms

Channel 3 - fireground

Channel 4 - interior

Channel 5 - fire police

Channels 6, 7 and 8 are alternatives if the others get plugged.

We have found it essential to have the interior folks on a quiet channel as it keeps chatter about water or coffee and donuts from talking over the search or attack team's transmissions.

We are having the exact same problem in our area and we have found that one way to keep radio traffic down to a minumum is "Radio Discipline." First of all, no one on the apparatus should be speaking to Dispatch except the Officer and that Officer should keep his/her traffic to a minumum.  He/she needs to stay on the main band while responding in order to catch info from the other arriving Co's as well as tracking what other Co's are responding and from which direction to avoid traffic collisions.  Most tactical channels are not "repeated" and therefore a Co Officer may not be heard or be able to hear on a tactical channel while responding.

Once arriving on scene and after giving a scene size up and radio report, the 1st due Co Officer should advise all arriving Co's and Dispatch that he/she will be operating on whatever tactical channel is predetermined by Departmental SOP's. The first arriving Chief Officer who assumes Command will also operate on the tactical channel but scan the main band as well.

Even when operating on the tactical channel at a scene, Radio Discipline should be implemented and adhered to. One thing that I try to teach our members is that, "The radio is not a telephone!" Stay off of the radio and save the air for pertinent traffic only.  The best communication is face to face.  For example, if my crew and I are in a living room pulling ceiling and opening up for the Engine Co, there is no need for all of us to have our radios blaring wide open.  If one of my crew notices something odd, he/she is to tell me face to face and then I communicate to whoever is assigned as our Command Officer.

in our county we have 14 or 15 channels that all departments use. The county dispatch assigns us an operations channel when the first tones go out. So far this seems to have worked well. As a few others have said radio discipline has to be taught, retaught, and maintained otherwise you will still have all kind of voice traffic over multiple channels.

Our county and the other depts around us just switched to trunking radio systems so that the systems work together when needed but the system also works to take all the radio traffic off the main channel.

When a call comes in its on the main channel. Units are told to switch to another channel before responding plus all unit and crew info is done with buttons on the radios so that vocal use is cut down on. The radio channel could be channel 8A or 8B or 8C with more channels to use for other operations in other parts of the county.

We have our crews use a Tach channel at fire scenes. Crews responding switch to the Tach ch. on the truck ( mobile) radio enroute to know what is happening on the scene. the crews also have a portable (walkie-talkie) radio that they keep on the main ch. to monitor what dispatch is saying.

In Lackawanna County, PA we are dispatched over the fire band frequency. The county is broken up into sectors of which operational channel to operate on. (i.e.--My town is in the "Mid Valley" region, therefor after dispatched, we switch to our operations channel, Mid Valley Fire Ground. This leves the dispatch channel free of units calling enroute, on scene, etc. for command.This policy was put into affect two years ago by the comm center, and is working great. All depts have the option to use their own TAC channel, but this will not be monitored by a dispatcher.


If you have repeated tac channels that can be monitored in your Dispatch center, then there is no reason to monitor the dispatch channel.  We leave our rig radios on Tac 1 (the most commonly used Tac channel) so that everyone on the call is on the same Tac channel as soon as they respond.


It is more important to have at least one Talk-Around (non-repeated) channel that Command monitors at all times.  That way, if there is a MAYDAY, the distressed firefighter/company, the Rapid Intervention crew, and a Rapid Intervention Group Supervisor stay on the Tac channel.  Command and everyone else switch to the Talk-Around channel, get a PAR, and continue to fight the fire without talking over the MAYDAY/Rapid Intervention operations.


In Beaufort County, we have a county-wide Emergency Ops Talk-Around channel.  It is programmed on Channel 16 (the last channel) on all fire portable radios in the county.  That makes the switch easy for firefighters who are operating in smoke, darkness, noise, and other sensory deprivation or overload environments.


Our county chief's association is also working to standardize MAYDAY and Rapid Intervention procedures countywide.  That way, if we're working together, all of those procedures are the same and we can all train on them in advance.  They're pretty close now - we just have to fine-tune the differences.

When we arrive on scene, all personel swap to our private channel if it is just our department on scene, or "truck-to-truck" if there are multiple departments on scene. This keeps us from tying up the main repeater, as there are 22 departments in our county.  The only person that remains on the main channel, is the Incident Commander and the Chief's Aide (if she is on scene).

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