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Old 08-09-2012, 2:18 PM
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Default Ross County, OH Fire System Issues

http://www.chillicothegazette.com/ar...nclick_check=1
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Old 08-10-2012, 3:50 PM
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Why didn't you post this under the OHIO section???
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Old 08-10-2012, 8:33 PM
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Just a standard problem most agencies everywhere are dealing with... Horrible this happened in my county though.
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Old 08-11-2012, 8:00 AM
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It sounds to me more of a radio programming issue with the company that redone the radios in the whole county. Also relying on a "patch " to work isn't the best option either as your trying to tie in completely different radio systems. Ross and Hocking both use VHF high band radios, maybe the powers to be need to sit down and figure out what channels are appropriate for both counties to use. Not everyone has 128 channel radios available to them with different zones.
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Old 08-11-2012, 10:42 AM
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......

Last edited by jim202; 08-11-2012 at 10:52 AM..
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Old 08-11-2012, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by medic611 View Post
It sounds to me more of a radio programming issue with the company that redone the radios in the whole county. Also relying on a "patch " to work isn't the best option either as your trying to tie in completely different radio systems. Ross and Hocking both use VHF high band radios, maybe the powers to be need to sit down and figure out what channels are appropriate for both counties to use. Not everyone has 128 channel radios available to them with different zones.
Someone can step in here if I have my facts wrong, but here goes.

Ross country Fire dispatch 154.130

Colerain FG 153.950 and 154.070

Laureville Fire disp. 154.2125

Pickaway Fire disp. 33.860

Tarlton (same as Pickaway) 33.860

Circleville Fire 154.415

Based on the above, the majority of the departments are high band, but using different channels. This is a prime reason to put the "National Radio Interoperability" channels into all their fire radios. There is a call channel and 4 tactical channels. The separation of these VHF channels does allow close in operation of multiple activities.

Generally if the departments can get their act together, one channel would be set up for fire ground operations, one channel set up as water supply, one channel set up as a medical channel and the last one can be used as a command channel.

Many counties around the country have got their act together and managed to put the politics aside and actually work with each other. If this is not the case, then the different departments and their members need to have a huddle and see what it will take to start working with each other. I know this is a major problem in parts of New York State. I am sure they are not the only ones.

As far as some of the low band departments, I generally have seen multiple radios installed in those vehicles that generally get dispatched mutual aid to the VHF land of other counties. This solves their compatibilities problems trying to communicate with other agencies.

The last problem is just which channels should be used. That is up to the local agencies to work out. It also will slightly depend on what abilities the radio equipment has. A low channel capacity ability today with mutual aid is a big limitation. VHF radios with 128 or more channels is common today. If your radio has less, your radio probably can't do narrow band operation either. If so, then the chief took the real cheap road when he bought the radios.

If it is just a programming issue with the radios, there is no excuse for not adding the channels that need to be there. Make sure you get the MOU (memorandum of understanding) in place and get with the program. If it's the money cost of programming the radios, have you tried contacting the local insurance agencies and see if they might be able to come up with some donations. It is much cheaper to have them front some money than to replace a burnt down house or business. I have seen them come up with AED medical donations and the likes before.

Come on guys, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to solve this communications problem. If it is the politics standing in the way, those individuals can be replaced too. You just need to show just cause why progress isn't being made. Sit down and talk with the upper management. If you don't get any place, take it to the county administration. Just make sure your ducks are in line when you do. That is a last resort.

I have been traveling around the country now for a number of years and try to give suggestions to the different departments I visit. My work is in radio interoperability. It has been about 45 plus years working with both the federal government and public safety agencies on radio systems. Have seen just about all the problems there ever can be. They can be solved. It just takes some real effort and dedication from the local people on the ground. By the way, I have about 35 years under my belt with different fire agencies. The last one was for 18 years, with most of it as the rank of Captain.
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Old 08-12-2012, 8:22 AM
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Like Jim above, I've got many years experience in public safety communications, and this sounds to me more like a failure in planning, training and command. If everyone at the scene had high-band radios (and they did), all that is needed is for everyone to go to a common simplex channel, which they also have in their radios. The incident commander should have ordered this almost immediately.

However, it's easier to blame the radio system(s) rather than admit that perhaps there are things you as a department, and especially as a chief officer, could be doing to prevent situations like this. In fact, the overwhelming majority of "interoperability issues" and "radio system problems" are actually failures of planning and training, and the ensuing failures of command are an outgrowth of this. The technology to talk to one another is already there, and most agencies can do so, but they either don't know how, or don't choose to do so.

This chief did make one good point, though; the cost for MARCS is still prohibitive for most agencies. When a radio costs $2000 and you have thirty of them, that's $60,000, which far exceeds the annual budget for most volunteer departments. Add the annual subscription fees of $7200 for those thirty radios and you have taken a very significant chunk out of the annual operating funds for that department, which they can ill afford, especially with the price of fuel increasing regularly.
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Old 08-12-2012, 8:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wa8pyr View Post
Like Jim above, I've got many years experience in public safety communications, and this sounds to me more like a failure in planning, training and command. If everyone at the scene had high-band radios (and they did), all that is needed is for everyone to go to a common simplex channel, which they also have in their radios. The incident commander should have ordered this almost immediately.

However, it's easier to blame the radio system(s) rather than admit that perhaps there are things you as a department, and especially as a chief officer, could be doing to prevent situations like this. In fact, the overwhelming majority of "interoperability issues" and "radio system problems" are actually failures of planning and training, and the ensuing failures of command are an outgrowth of this. The technology to talk to one another is already there, and most agencies can do so, but they either don't know how, or don't choose to do so.
Well said. And you can add 'Commanders Not Listening To Their Techs' to the list. For just one example, during the "Great Ice Storm of 2009" I spent 2 days doing nothing but reprogramming radios although mutual aid channels were sitting there not being utilized. "We need to be able to talk to them on their channel..." what a crock.
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Old 08-13-2012, 10:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim202 View Post
Someone can step in here if I have my facts wrong, but here goes.

Ross country Fire dispatch 154.130

Colerain FG 153.950 and 154.070

Laureville Fire disp. 154.2125

Pickaway Fire disp. 33.860

Tarlton (same as Pickaway) 33.860

Circleville Fire 154.415

Based on the above, the majority of the departments are high band, but using different channels. This is a prime reason to put the "National Radio Interoperability" channels into all their fire radios. There is a call channel and 4 tactical channels. The separation of these VHF channels does allow close in operation of multiple activities.

Generally if the departments can get their act together, one channel would be set up for fire ground operations, one channel set up as water supply, one channel set up as a medical channel and the last one can be used as a command channel.

Many counties around the country have got their act together and managed to put the politics aside and actually work with each other. If this is not the case, then the different departments and their members need to have a huddle and see what it will take to start working with each other. I know this is a major problem in parts of New York State. I am sure they are not the only ones.

As far as some of the low band departments, I generally have seen multiple radios installed in those vehicles that generally get dispatched mutual aid to the VHF land of other counties. This solves their compatibilities problems trying to communicate with other agencies.

The last problem is just which channels should be used. That is up to the local agencies to work out. It also will slightly depend on what abilities the radio equipment has. A low channel capacity ability today with mutual aid is a big limitation. VHF radios with 128 or more channels is common today. If your radio has less, your radio probably can't do narrow band operation either. If so, then the chief took the real cheap road when he bought the radios.

If it is just a programming issue with the radios, there is no excuse for not adding the channels that need to be there. Make sure you get the MOU (memorandum of understanding) in place and get with the program. If it's the money cost of programming the radios, have you tried contacting the local insurance agencies and see if they might be able to come up with some donations. It is much cheaper to have them front some money than to replace a burnt down house or business. I have seen them come up with AED medical donations and the likes before.

Come on guys, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to solve this communications problem. If it is the politics standing in the way, those individuals can be replaced too. You just need to show just cause why progress isn't being made. Sit down and talk with the upper management. If you don't get any place, take it to the county administration. Just make sure your ducks are in line when you do. That is a last resort.

I have been traveling around the country now for a number of years and try to give suggestions to the different departments I visit. My work is in radio interoperability. It has been about 45 plus years working with both the federal government and public safety agencies on radio systems. Have seen just about all the problems there ever can be. They can be solved. It just takes some real effort and dedication from the local people on the ground. By the way, I have about 35 years under my belt with different fire agencies. The last one was for 18 years, with most of it as the rank of Captain.

Actually pickaway county uses and EDACS system. Not conv. That system could play a roll in the failure.
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Old 09-10-2012, 3:28 PM
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I've been atune to this mess for years.

The county owns the "dispatching" portion, the agencies own thier equipment. Everyone wants to be in charge.

No one has very much real knowledge on the subject, although a few "arm chair pros" think they do. They shun outside help, even when they say they want it. Each township wants it's own "repeater"....on the same freq...and then can't understand why it's a mess.Find me one fireman that knows what the repeater actully does and I'll give him $20.

Years ago it was established as MOBILE / PAGER repeater system...not portables. Then when volunteers could start to afford portables they all bought them....then, of course, since it was designed as a mobile system....couldnt understand why they couldnt talk from every crevise of the county. The mobiles used to be 100 watts...now they are 25-40....there have been FCC issues....the TX antenna was 200ft too high (already on a VERY HIGH PROFILE site) and they had to move it down. There is also the issue of freq coordination....this was done poorly by the original coordinating body...who knows who that was now....and the input Freq is the same as the OUTPUT freq of several other agency repeaters in this part of the state.

So there are a couple of things that could be blamed on users/stewards and a couple on administrative issues.

At the end of the day....it has been a 20+ year problem, bandaids out the wazoo and no one wants to take responsibility, find the money to fix it, and eveyrone wants to blame someone else.

Also, one of the issues is...."it's my damn radio, I want it programmed THIS way" so things don't match.

They need: Central control of programming, PTT_ID, and about 10 classes in how systems work, what it will do and won't and then you must pass a test to be a user. Then the chiefs need to take the test again....lol.

My suggestion: Change to a multiple repeater UHF system, with aux receivers if needed, and then it is zoned so they can have communications if multiple incidents happen at once. They don't need trunking, they don't need fancy stuff....it just needs to work. AND....keep paging in VHF.
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Old 09-10-2012, 8:25 PM
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I'll also add, there are other ways to "fix" this...but solutions have been brought to them before (like the UHF). The primary service provider for their equipment has tried to help them, for years. Same story...no money...then people blame the service provider. If I were them...I would refuse to service it until someone acknowledges the issues and takes responsibility, stops blaming.

The S/O system works good...but still a major lack of user knowledge among the "users". Hard to make a system sing when no one can play the instruments.

I saw this on a members signature:


FREE Interop:
1. Pre-program agency radios with all national interoperability channels and frequencies.
2. Share radio frequencies / talkgroups with neighboring agencies on compatible radio systems.
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:22 PM
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Since I have some indirect connection to this system, the radio shop, etc., I can update that I was talking to someone today and was not surprised, but still alerted I guess that the county has a control base to backup the wireline control of each "repeater" they use however, they cannot hit all of the repeaters....just one from their local control base at the LEC. So, if they have a big problem with equipment on their end, or a telco issue....there is no backup.

This is about as bad as having so many law enforcement agencies on their own systems or MARCS....but they have no true simplex interoperability. Every agency in the state should be required to have VHF capability at their dispatch point and in each vehicle with their designated VHF mutual aid channels programmed. But who listens to a voice of reason anymore?
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Old 02-21-2013, 5:21 PM
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I hate to reply again, but I wanted to share more.

Last week I made that post about VHF and interops, and I know I don't need to preach it to anyone hear, but I really have to wonder why agencies have to be so thick skulled.

Today there was an incident not far from me. The Sheriff's system worked fine (except they could have moved the incident to to tactical repeater...oh wait, they forget they have that, and the coverage is crap so why have it to begin with?) They were assisted by OSP, and the adjacent county (OSP on MARCS, other county on their own 800 trunk)

Deputy needed quick assistance....OSP was near him....Can't communicate. Why? No VHF (LEERN).

The county has no VHF in cars anymore, and are not using the base they are licensed for. If they had that, he could have talked directly to OSP, or his dispatcher could have talked to OSP directly via the LEERN base....but what did we do? SO dispatcher had to call OSP dispatcher in Jackson and relay info back and forth. (In a really good scenario you could patch your LEERN base to your TAC reepater to let them talk....)

PATHETIC!
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Old 02-21-2013, 5:41 PM
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Each SO in Ohio was given a MARCS radio and they have an SO talkgroup. If this radio was installed they could have talked to OSP on the SO talkgroup. Each Post (and by extension, dispatch location) is suppose to monitor the SO talkgroups in their service area.

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Old 02-21-2013, 9:16 PM
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Yep...it's there. People need to be adept enough to use it before it becomes useful. But even at that, they should have had the ability to talk without anyone's assistance.
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Old 06-05-2013, 3:52 AM
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Townships brush aside fire survey

The Ross County commissioners are mystified by the lack of township fire department response to a survey that is the initial step in determining a plan to address radio communication issues.
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:38 AM
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The County is aware of the issues...well aware...they would meet with Chiefs and Vendors 20 years ago about how this system needed updating, and planning for funds to modernize it. Fast forward 20 years....and we are still "chewing on it". This started as a single repeater system, relying on mobiles and a control point at the SO way back when. As portables became the fad, and people are mobile 16+ hours a day...and volunteers are now soccer moms and factory workers with busy schedules..and not farmers, retirees, etc., who were the 6-10 members who could dedicate lots of time to it back in the 70's...the needs for paging and response are different. We don't have a Plectron on top of the TV anymore.

This needs an engineer, the vendor, and money. A total new UHF multi-site, multi-channel system with dispatching redundancy, user redundancy, a county wide simplex plan, assigned zones/repeaters, and simulcasted VHF paging. They need to keep the 2-3 main bases that page on VHF and their VHF pagers...due to high cost and already having them. But all comms need to be on a much improved system designed around PORTABLES and IN BUILDING coverage criteria.

This is a tough county to cover, 800 is not going to do it, but UHF works well here. The SO system is not 100%, but it's pretty decent given it is a 5 site multi-cast.

They also need some professionally trained, certified dispatchers, and staffing to handle that load. The dispatchers do not understand any of the radio systems that operate. Despite being shown, directed, even asked pretty please by the vendor, several dispatchers still refuse to NOT key 2 bases at once to dispatch calls for certain townships. What happens? The message is garbled, because the bases are not sync'd and are not designed to be. The dispatchers excuse (I was told)? I don't have time to give the message twice (once over each base).

Since they have bases at all fire stations, I would advocate store and forward so they could dispatch everything from one point, then each townships base or local repeater would re=page it. Harder for a dispatcher to screw up. This would be if they moved comms to UHF, as the single channel VHF is overloaded now.
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