Is the channel you use on the fireground monitored by a dispatcher, or is it the responsibility of the Incident Commander to monitor all transmissions? Is it safe not having that extra set of ears listening?
In our county the main dispatch channel is monitored and the 2-Med channels are alos monitored at all times then when a call goes out the dispatchers monitor the op's channel for that departments incident and with the new 800mhz system coverage is actually better in our area
Our comm center justy recently started monitoring our operations channels. The designated certin channel to certin parts of the county. For example, we are to operate on Mid Valley Fire Ground. Comm Center dispatches on the Lackawanna Fire frequency and we are suposed to call enroute, on scene, back in service on the operations channel. What they are trying to do is have command only on the dispatch frequency.For the most part it is working, there are them couple companies that still use the dispatch frequency for everything.
Our county does not have the firegrounds monitored by dispatch, it is the IC's responsibility. This is due to lack of manpower in a dispatch center that handles sheriff, EMS, and fire. While I feel that a second set of ears needs to be there and dispatch should monitor it is still the IC's responsibility for his peoples safety on scene. The other thing is it makes it a pain as IC to have to switch back and forth just to contact dispatch.
It goes without saying that having another set of ears is safer. However, at what cost does the extra set of ears come? In a rural environment with poor line of sight, or an urban/commercial setting with a high interference factor, reaching a tower or repeater with a portable isn't exactly practical. And may actually cause the IC to not hear a mayday or urgent message. Our department, and all the departments around us, use one radio (low-band) to contact dispatch. The other radios are UHF and have a repeater for response for each department, and a 16-channel simplex fireground setup.
In the event of a mayday, a member will activate his panic button. However, in case the member cannot physically reach or push the button, a mayday is declared verbally. Either way, ALL UNITS EXCEPT the FAST (RIT) team, the unit calling the mayday, and the FAST officer at the command post will switch over to an emergency fireground. This allows fire suppression to continue to operate normally, and frees up the channel for FAST to communicate with the downed firefighter. Once the mayday is completed, operations then move back to the original fireground.
Our fireground channel (command)is monitored by dispatch but the tactical channel is not. The IC has to monitor both and on a 2nd alarm incident will use an engine company to assist at the command post and monitor command and tactical channels.
The emergency trigger is on the tactical radios and assigned to post positions. When activated the open mic does not last 10 seconds as it is supposed too but keying the mic will keep the radio channel open for 2 minutes. The e-trigger is not on a repeated frequency nor is it trunked. It is still analog but moving to digital soon.
The e-trigger will Identify the post position and ID number of the assigned person.
The whole system is open to human error. Personal accountability, checking PPE in the morning, and situational awareness lessen the chance of an activation.
Ultimately, all command and tactical channels should be monitored for radio and e-trigger activation with an ID number for the person assigned to that radio.