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Old 06-27-2013, 12:29 AM
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Default Houston, TX: Houston firefighters say ‘problem’ radio equipment could lead to traged

Houston firefighters say

by Courtney Zubowski / KHOU 11 News I-Team

khou.com

Posted on June 26, 2013 at 10:39 PM


HOUSTON -- Firefighters work in the most dangerous of places. Protecting our property and our lives, they walk into burning, smoke-filled buildings.

Here if they get separated or into trouble, their only lifeline to help and safety may be their radio.

Last edited by loumaag; 06-27-2013 at 9:16 AM.. Reason: Edited to comply with copyright rules
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Old 06-27-2013, 11:09 PM
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Unfortunately there are growing pains with new radio systems in place. Dead zones are a big problem with new systems and they will just need to work out the bugs and put in bi-directional amplifiers and more repeaters. Hopefully it not at the cost of loosing lives especially the firefighters.

Thank God the fire department did not adopt full encryptions or they would be up the creek too with encryption and dead zones. You might as well not even carry a radio then. You can go down to the stores and buy something better for TA direct which would only cost less than a hundred bucks for a cheap 1 watt radio.

Like I said in several posts over and over again its just a matter of time until all of these digital systems and encryption will back fire on these counties and cities. Interops will be the biggest problem for major disasters of course and we all know it too.

Good Luck Houston.............................
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Old 06-28-2013, 8:50 AM
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The full discussion can be found here:
City of Houston Project 25 TRS

Start with post #424.
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Old 06-28-2013, 8:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pepsima1 View Post
Thank God the fire department did not adopt full encryptions or they would be up the creek too with encryption and dead zones. You might as well not even carry a radio then. You can go down to the stores and buy something better for TA direct which would only cost less than a hundred bucks for a cheap 1 watt radio.
Good Luck Houston.............................
Actually, all of HFD's tactical channels are encrypted: Texas Wide Area Radio Network (TxWARN) Project 25 Trunking System, Various, Texas - Scanner Frequencies
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Old 06-28-2013, 9:52 AM
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Well there you go. Encryption and dead zones what a concept. I am smelling disaster on the way.

Well the scanner industry in Houston is dead. One city down the tubes. I guess that's why you have not seen any new scanners on the market.

Now does it make sense on why GRE went dead. The scanner market is dead and gone. Once encryption hit the floor running strong there is no way to make a radio to receive garble noise and turn it to clear voice. Uniden has to be thinking second thoughts about their radio side of the business.

So lets put it this way in terms where people can understand this. Since Houston went to a new digital P25 Phase II system to a hobbyist we go oh man way cool. Where can I go to buy a cool new scanner radio so I can hear the police and fire on their new digital system.

So I go to the store and go wow I cant buy a new radio to receive this new modulation. Plus police and fire are encrypted. Oh well move on with life and find a different hobby. This cost a scanner market company new sales. So Houston has a population of 2.2 million people and if you take lets say 1 percent of the population in Houston that may want a new scanner and that would be 20,000 units lost by a company that would have made these units.

The writing is blasted all over the wall.
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Old 06-28-2013, 1:19 PM
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It's like I've been saying...
These overly complex DTRS radio systems do not make us safer.
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Old 06-28-2013, 1:29 PM
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Pepsima1, HPD and HFD aren't completely encrypted. If you look at the DB page, you'll see that HFD's "Regional Operator" dispatch channels are unencrypted P25 Phase I. You will also notice that all of HPD's dispatch channels are simulcasted in unencrypted Phase I.
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Old 06-28-2013, 2:22 PM
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Digital P25 I or II and Encryption + Other counties and cities and FEMA = NO INTEROPS….

There will be growing pains and people loosing their lives over this but what are you going to do.
Why is Houston encrypting FIRE in the first place, I can see why PD on their tacticals. Doesn’t make sense to anyone. They bought the Kool-Aid from Motorola and are rolling with it.

Is HOUSTON that crazy down their where everything needs to be locked down. I thought LA area was crazy with our gangs and they are fully wide open.
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Old 06-28-2013, 3:08 PM
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they are encrypting because they CAN.
maybe they don't want fire whackers on their fire scenes.
maybe they don't want media showing up before the first due in.
maybe they don't want their radio traffic, especially LODD's, all over the internet before family members get a chance to get notified, thanks to a certain website that will remain nameless.
maybe they've something to hide.

regardless, it's foolish to encrypt firegrounds- how do mutual aid responders who you may call for MA talk on your FG's if they don't have the same algo, or the keys, or encryption at all.

oh I know "well radio can patch them...or they can switch to..."
wait, doesn't that defeat the purpose of the big "E" to begin with?

WAIT! I know, Houston needs to call ARES to the rescue with their encrypted ham radios! That way some JAFO can stand there and pass "third party traffic"! That's the answer!
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Old 06-28-2013, 3:19 PM
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Strictly speaking from a technical perspective, I thought the whole concept of P25 trunking systems was to consolidate bandwidth so more channelized spectrum could be created. How does that not directly increase the safety factor (assuming the agencies are using the system to their full potential)? Seeing and hearing the product being put out in Lake County, Ohio, I have a different view of these radio systems. None of the agencies of whom I have some form of verbal relationship with seem upset with their systems in place now. It has been considered a vast improvement over the old systems.

When the Cleveland P25 system went up, the radio techs were heard for MONTHS combing the insides of buildings and all over the fringe areas of the area the system was supposed to cover. One radio tech even went as far as to announce to all of the scanner listeners out there that he was indeed in an elevator. ...If I only had a record device hooked up...
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Old 06-28-2013, 10:01 PM
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Right on MTS2000, there is no need to encrypt fire or most police stuff. Every digital trunked system I've worked with lately, and they are not encrypted has severe problems with voice intelligibility. The transmissions are often garbled sounding as if the speaker's mouth is underwater. And this is better? Any why was trunked analog so bad? At least it was/is intelligible. I've said many times that police or fire and perhaps the public are going to have to perish to get this situation corrected, if that is even possible.
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Old 06-29-2013, 3:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rapidcharger View Post
It's like I've been saying...
These overly complex DTRS radio systems do not make us safer.

I'm not exaggerating when I say I can take down an entire county system, with about $100.. and not have to put myself in any danger.

The same attack that would cripple a DTRS, would be just a minor annoyance on a conventional analog system.
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Old 06-29-2013, 8:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTS2000des View Post
regardless, it's foolish to encrypt firegrounds- how do mutual aid responders who you may call for MA talk on your FG's if they don't have the same algo, or the keys, or encryption at all.
Agencies that commonly run with HFD have access to the secure talkgroups. On a major multi-agency event the plan is to use the X-ICS and Y-ICS talkgroups which are clear and carried on the 800 public works layer. HFD apparatus radios also have access to WARN and HC MA talkgroups which every radio on 1A7 is required to have.

Also, two major BS flags with this "report:"
1.) The "technical issue" preventing initial switchover wasn't a coverage issue, it had to do with the dispatcher robot not reading addresses correctly.
2.) The "bonks" reported on the 5-11 Southwest fire were not out-of-range notifications, they were busy channel notifications. And the issue there wasn't system capacity, it was too many people trying to talk at once.. an issue which has existed since the UHF days.

I am by no means an apologist for Motorola trunking systems and I absolutely support clear analog for the fireground, but this report is pure fear-mongering tripe. Our local media outlets take swipes at the City every chance they get because it drives ratings.
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Old 06-29-2013, 8:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jparks29 View Post
I'm not exaggerating when I say I can take down an entire county system, with about $100.. and not have to put myself in any danger.
I... there are no words. The stupidity behind this statement is so vast I can scarcely fathom it. Have you really learned nothing at all from your previous run-ins with law enforcement?
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Old 06-29-2013, 8:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pepsima1 View Post
Is HOUSTON that crazy down their where everything needs to be locked down.
1.) Streaming. Ban me, warn me if you will, but I can absolutely guarantee you it came up in discussion. The clear talkgroups were a concession to media and tow truck operators.
2.) People behaving badly at fire scenes. I'm sure many of you are aware of how tow trucks operate in greater Houston... well, let's say they have counterparts in the fire restoration business who operate similarly at structure fires.
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Old 06-29-2013, 10:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motorola_otaku View Post
I... there are no words. The stupidity behind this statement is so vast I can scarcely fathom it. Have you really learned nothing at all from your previous run-ins with law enforcement?
1. It's true
2. Any person with a basic knowledge of RF circuits can do it.
3. What run-ins?

PM me for a schematic. I know who you are and know it wouldn't be used for 'evil'

Unless, of course, it's a crime to think.

It's not what you know, it's how you use it.

Knowing something isn't illegal......Yet.

All it takes is one knowledgeable person, and the production that is security theater comes to a screeching halt.

The information is out there, it's not a secret.

Someone WILL exploit the inherit flaws in systems like these, I guarantee it.

Systems go out of whack just from an idiot trying to use a /\/\ radio as a scanner, and duplicating an ID, which happens to be the dispatch console... That's just from an idiot who doesn't know what he's doing, inadvertently screwing up a system. What do you think will happen with someone who has knowledge AND intent to cause harm? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out.

Murphy's law applies, sometimes forcibly so.

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Old 06-29-2013, 10:40 PM
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Jparks, are you familiar with evidence discovery and the process that the courts go through to get it? Simply typing out what you said before would put a giant bullseye on your chest in a courtroom.

I'm not a lawyer, but I have been advised by professional counsel in a seminar setting to keep my mouth shut about anything (in my) industry-related or anything that could self-incriminate myself (not that I have anything to hide!)
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Old 06-29-2013, 10:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KC8ESL View Post
Jparks, are you familiar with evidence discovery and the process that the courts go through to get it? Simply typing out what you said before would put a giant bullseye on your chest in a courtroom.

I'm not a lawyer, but I have been advised by professional counsel in a seminar setting to keep my mouth shut about anything (in my) industry-related or anything that could self-incriminate myself (not that I have anything to hide!)
Unrelated.

I'm commenting how complex systems are prone to malfunction , either self induced or intentional.

I've never used, nor intend to use, the device(s) mentioned, but people should be aware that they exist, and work. See aforementioned comment about security theatre.

Systems managers and bean counters are being taken by /\/\ sales people, in thinking that the systems are perfect/infallible/secure/etc, which is far from the case.
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Old 06-29-2013, 11:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motorola_otaku View Post
1.) Streaming. Ban me, warn me if you will, but I can absolutely guarantee you it came up in discussion. The clear talkgroups were a concession to media and tow truck operators.
2.) People behaving badly at fire scenes. I'm sure many of you are aware of how tow trucks operate in greater Houston... well, let's say they have counterparts in the fire restoration business who operate similarly at structure fires.
We see it on the fireground in ATX. But we have a work-a-round. Its called a permit. We issue a provisional permit under the fire code that requires our inspector on-site to confirm the services required for securing a structure meet the Fire Code requirements within 4 hours of calling control. The company securing the building pays for this. My inspectors carry lap tops and generate the permit electronically and we tie it to the address. If the permit fee is not paid, the building permit for rebuilding cannot be obtained. If they demo the building, they can't do it legally as a demo permit is required. This way, we confirm utilities are dormant and blind capped to prevent fuel gas or water leaks.

And as a scanner enthusiast and fire marshal, I am singing from the same song book we all agree on when it comes to encryption. It's a bad idea and we're not serving our citizens we serve as their servants.
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Old 06-29-2013, 11:30 PM
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Put yourself in the shoes of an investigator who's is discovering evidence related to the Houston p25 system that has been jammed by bozo's(at the time of this writing it is hypothetical) for weeks on end. He'll see your post and think he found the goldmine. Now you're in the can for a few weeks until some DA decides you're not actually a threat to humanity, or does he toss the book at you and now because of some post you've written months or years ago, you get 3 meals a day and excercise in a 10x10 cage for an hour every 2 days...
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