Recently in my FD there has been alot of talk about banning radio straps due to them being a safety hazard.

The "leadership" has determined through no research that the stainless steel buckels interfere with radio signal.

Additionally alot of us wear the strap under our turnout coat as to avoid the strap becoming an entaglement hazard. The "leadership" states that this is a safety concern because they feel you can not reach the radio to change tactical channels if needed. The "solution" is to place the radio in the radio pocket.

This so called solution makes the radio even more difficult to change channels not to mention tha fact that if metal does interfere with the radio signal I highly doubt the radio is smart enough to determine the difference between radio strap metal and SCBA metal.

So what I am looking for is documentation dispelling these radio strap myths, if there is any out there please post it on the forum or email me @ thanks for all your help brothers.

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The problem with that is we have a dispatch, and business channel, as well as 13 tac channels for fire and 3 police fire joint tacs we can work off of and thats just on our talk group. Through mutual aide in there and all the departments we could run with have a duplication of this which requires switching talk groups and then finding the appropriate tac channel. There is also a Talk around function that needs to be utilized when the building interers with the radio signal....all easy to change to with the strap...not easy when its stuck in a pocket.
I currently have many on my staff that have the radio strap. I dont understand why they want it or wear it when i have had the radio pocket for years and it has done me fine.............but perhaps that is something we as a department need to change because my guys sure love it. As far as intinterfereing with the tansmission of the radio I doubt it...perhaps it's just old school that doesnt like the change. As leadership we have to make changes as a combination department to make firefighting operations and morale better even if you didnt come up with the idea !
OK here's how I see it. I've tried all different configurations, and as far as I can tell, the strap is the way to go. Under the coat, the cable is protected ( and highly unlikely to cause entanglement ), it keeps the radio in a position that is easily accessed and is relatively safe (in a case), and it doesn't interfere with the SCBA or vice versa. Strap buckles interfere with the radio? Sounds like someone just doesn't want to seem too "buff". It's crap - believe me if anything is going to interfere with the radio, it's not gonna be that. SCBA, TIC transmitters, buildings.... that's what causes radio interference. I have a radio pocket on my coat as well. It holds my cigarettes nicely. There is nothing wrong with the radio pocket if that's what you're comfortable with - I just prefer the strap. It also leaves the mic close to the mask, and makes it A LOT easier to be clearly heard when transmitting, especially with a voicemitter on the mask. And anyone who says that you only wear it to look like the FDNY... ask them why the FDNY, one of the best fire departments in the world, issues one to every firefighter who has a radio! To carry with them in buildings of all different types, in every situation. If it caused issues, they would have figured that out by now! They wear it because it works well. I wear it because it works well. Bring that to the powers that be - and ask them to back up their arguments with fact, just as we all have here. I think you'll find that you've proven your point. And when it's election time - pick some new leaders. Best of luck brother.
Thanks unfortunatley Im in a career dept. so electing new leaders is a no go....whis it was that easy.
Gee Ron. I didn't know I was so far off on this one.

Let's see...change to the fire frequency before exiting the rig. Sounds good to me. Except that for various reasons, our system is a tad different, therefore the occassional need to switch frequencies. And I have tried radio pockets. Right breast, left breast, both breasts in stereo...just don't work as well as that ol' strap.

Must be a Quintee thing I guess. Sorry.

I guess I'm one of the rare Filipino who wore a radio straps in our place. Seriously, I'm comfortable at that manner. As all guys mentioned the convenience of it. Also to add, as a vollie, it works best when I ride my own motorcycle in which my speaker mic is closest to my ear.

TCSS mike

My department uses them. They aren't issued, but the majority has them. The ones who don't are always fumbling around with their radio and/or mic.

Like someone said before, my radio ends up just beneath my coat below where the waist strap of my SCBA sits on my hips. All I have to do is flip up the bottom of my coat (pants still protecting my body) and I can reach anything on the radio I need to get to.

If firefighters cannot figure out how many times to turn the dial to correct tac's then they need to train on it. I can get anywhere with mine without looking. Any button, knob, whatever. If I need to actually see my radio I can look around and pull it forward.

If you are in smoke conditions you wouldn't be able to see it anyways.

We also utilize the extra strap with clasps to clasp it to our suspenders or a belt loop to keep the radio from moving around to the front while crawling or bending over.

As for the front, I can unclasp the radio mic as I zip up my coat and it will hang in place. It doesn't get in the way and it is always right there.

I don't have any hard evidence, but your leadership doesn't either for the argument. If there isn't a policy against it just get one.

I don't think you'll ever convince the powers that be that metal hardware will cause poor performance. If I remember correctly the issue came up from someone carrying keys on the antenna and trying to transmit. Your body blocking the signal will affect it more than two metal clasps. Performance wise, you'll get better results with the antenna higher on the body, in the radio pocket, as opposed to being low on the body on the strap. The down side is the pocket is not in the best of position to interface with the chest strap on the airpack.

There are two viable options, both are OEM remote speaker mics. One is a remote speaker mic that has the antenna and emergency button on it. The other is a speaker mic with the channel selector and a emergency button on it but no antenna. Its too bad that Motorola does not make a mic with all the essential controls. They do make one with GPS in it however. Of course these cost quite a bit more.

I know this is an old discussion, and it's not even what I was originally searching for, but I thought I'd throw in my two cents... I just took over radios for my department, and am starting to see a rise in the use of radio straps. Radios are assigned to specific rigs, which means all three shifts use the same radios. Those that use straps will remove the belt clips and external speaker connector cover, and all too often, will not replace the covers or belt clips for those of us who opt not to sling a purse... (I kid, I kid!). For me, this is a pet peeve, and a huge problem, as the radios are infinitely harder to carry without a belt clip, requiring you to either keep them in your hand, or stuff them in a pocket. I also have inherited a box full of broken lapel mics, so there's an added cost to the use of radio straps for the department. 

For my own personal solution, specifically on turnouts (For EMS, I just use a belt clip to my pocket, nothing fancy), I have been using a "Gear Keeper" strap on the front of my jacket for nearly 10 years now. It keeps my radio near my ear, with the antenna pointed out/away from my body, and with the button/knobs handy and the mic near my external SCBA mask speaker (on both the Scott I used to use, and the MSA I use now). I swear by it, and although I try to spread the love, I've yet to see a single other firefighter adopt it... I highly recommend it for those of you who don't like keeping the radio shoved in a front pocket, or dealing with straps. the radio pocket has been a most convenient place to keep a hose strap, since I don't have to hear the strap talking to me!   =)  The Gear Keeper is just a velcro strap that slides through the belt clip and over the speaker, but I've never had issues with hearing the radio, and never had the radio become displaced or accidentally key up on me (at least not because of the strap...) 


I wear my radio strap a little long so that I can lift the side of my coat up a bit and change the channel. When we change the channel the radio there is a recorded voice that tells you what channel you are on. I have never heard of buckles or any metal interfering with radios.
Robert Owens said:
I am on the channel befor exiting the rig....what if there is a RIT activation and the operating units have to change to clear the air for the rescue??? What if we have to change to a "talk around" frequency becuase the building interferes with radio traffic?? All impossible in the pocket and not hard at all in the strap configuration under the coat.

As for the pocket being to small....I have no control over the gear specs thats handled at a higher level and within an R and D work group.....there is about a 10 year waiting list to get on this group. I cant just go and replace my pocket cuase that would be damaging county property and adding an unapproved change to county property both of which are fireable actions.
In 2013, Fairfax County Virginia conducted an in-depth study of radio straps and released a report. Originally, Fairfax County, like many other departments, had an SOP dictating that portable radios must be worn in the turnout coat radio pocket, no straps. The Fairfax County Communications division decided to conduct this study, looking at all aspects of radio pocket vs radio strap use. The study looked at signal loss, radio damage, LODDs, near misses, and interviews with firefighters.

Fairfax County Study, click here for the full PDF report:

One of the biggest issues with coat radio pockets is that when a firefighter is crawling, the radio is facing the floor, and is shielded by the their body, causing loss of signal. Radios falling out of pockets and speaker mic damage were also a major concern. In the study, they compared the strap being worn over the coat and under the coat. They found that under the coat was the best choice as it protected the radio and mic from thermal and entanglement issues.

The study concluded that the best way for a firefighter to carry a radio is, on a radio strap, under the turnout coat, adjusted long enough so the antenna hangs out just below the coat. I highly recommend that you click the link above and read the full report. It has plenty of good info. Pass it along to your Chief and Safety Officer for review.

Another notable study about portable radio use in the firefighting environment was conducted back in 2006, by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

NIST Study, click here for the full PDF report:

For me personally, I have been using a reflective radio strap and case for years, and find it to be a very convenient and easy way to carry my radio. The radio setup is worn under my turnout coat. The strap also comes in handy to attach a knife, small flashlight, pen or marker. The case has an additional anti-sway clip to keep the radio secure and minimize rotation and entanglement. I also have a retractable Gear Keeper for the speaker mic, which secures it to the front of the coat and prevents dropping or losing the mic. The radio is preset to the FG and an emergency channel, but the radio is still accessible if need be to switch channels. This setup works for me.

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