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Old 03-13-2013, 2:50 PM
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Default How Much Sharing Of Federal Radio Resources Is There In Your Area?

As posted above, I am just curious how much sharing of federal radio resources there is in your area? Near me, there is the Federal Protective Service UHF repeater. Granted, they are dispatched out of Battle Creek MI, so perhaps they are unlikely to share with anybody.

The TSA near me probably wouldn't be conducive to sharing a repeater and they probably don't really have a dispatcher, per se.

The VA Hospital Police have sort of a unique mission, but if they were to go the way of Federal Protective Serivce, maybe they could have several Mega Centers around the US.

I recall during legacy US Customs Service days hearing what seemed to be non-USCS users on the air from time to time.

Maybe a regional federal communications center would save money and maybe it wouldn't. As far as infra-structure goes, it seems like none of the frequencies are so busy that they couldn't share some repeaters.
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Old 03-14-2013, 5:00 PM
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I would say CBP is the only sharer, but it's more of a Contracted use.

Sector [Orlando FLA] handles for many agencies across the country on the original CBP Pairs. NOAA, NMF, EPA, ICE, BP to name a few

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Originally Posted by JASII View Post
As posted above, I am just curious how much sharing of federal radio resources there is in your area? Near me, there is the Federal Protective Service UHF repeater. Granted, they are dispatched out of Battle Creek MI, so perhaps they are unlikely to share with anybody.

The TSA near me probably wouldn't be conducive to sharing a repeater and they probably don't really have a dispatcher, per se.

The VA Hospital Police have sort of a unique mission, but if they were to go the way of Federal Protective Serivce, maybe they could have several Mega Centers around the US.

I recall during legacy US Customs Service days hearing what seemed to be non-USCS users on the air from time to time.

Maybe a regional federal communications center would save money and maybe it wouldn't. As far as infra-structure goes, it seems like none of the frequencies are so busy that they couldn't share some repeaters.
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Old 03-14-2013, 8:23 PM
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From what I have noticed in the DC/Baltimore area, there is little sharing. However most of the comms in the area, at least the good ones, are encrypted. Therefore determining exactly whomo is using the frequency is difficult. There are precious few VHF channels left in the DC area so sharing would help some agencies.

I had heard of possible sharing on the IWN, for some DOI and NPS users, but once the users were determined to be non-law enforcement the idea was nixed. It's still a very vertical old-boys world when it comes to some things.
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Old 03-15-2013, 12:09 PM
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As others have stated, there is very little "sharing" of federal radio systems. Federal agencies of all types tend to be very territorial. They like to be in control of their stuff, including their radio networks. CBP does offer access to their VHF network and dispatch center in Orlando to other federal agencies via contract. It was a good deal for agencies who don't have their own nationwide radio system.

The exception might be the so called "common" channels that multiple federal agencies have access to and use when they are on a common operation or a multi-agency incident response. Interior & Agriculture often share resources at fires, etc..

The IWN trunked system was intended to be shared to a certain extent, but only amongst agencies within the Justice Department, then later the Treasury and DHS were brought into the project. I can say the current IWN deployment in the Pacific Northwest includes various agencies throughout Justice, Treasury, DHS, DoD and some state and local police agencies. The NCR IWN system seems to be only DoJ agencies so far.

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Old 03-15-2013, 12:49 PM
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In the west all of the wildland fire dispatching at the federal level is done from interagency centers, 105 of them in total. They all include the BLM and the USFS. National Park Service units vary depending on the characteristics of the park unit, some have all functions included in the interagency center as in the case of Death Valley, Mojave, and Joshua Tree being dispatched by the federal interagency communications center in San Bernardino. Some NPS units include just the fire function and not law enforcement as with Lassen, Grand Canyon and Lake Mead. Some parks have their own centers for all functions due to their size and workload, as in Yellowstone, Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon. In California, Nevada and Oregon, National Wildlife Refuges use interagency centers, but I'm not as familiar with this situation in other states. A few centers provide service to Indian Reservations, but as with the NPS size and workload can cause this to vary.

Many centers include state natural resource agencies as well. This is most often true for state forestry agencies but sometimes includes state wildlife agencies as well as state parks. The state forestry agencies of Nevada and New Mexico are included in the interagency centers in those states. In California the workload of the state forestry agency, Cal Fire, is heavy and complex enough that only six centers are co-located with the Forest Service. Of these six only three include the BLM as well. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Parks and Recreation have three consolidated dispatch centers in the state.

The trend to consolidate the communications centers of wildland fire agencies started slowly in the 1970's, sped up in the 80's and became ubiquitous by the mid to late 1990's. The increased efficiency in terms of cost and facility maintenance, increased hours of coverage, better coordination and fewer points of communication for the Geographic Area Coordination Centers (11 in the U.S.) make consolidation a winner. Federal agencies that have their own dispatch centers are still included in the logistical and command function of the nearest interagency center. For instance the ordering point for resources (engines, command teams, supplies, personnel, etc.) for the national park units in Hawaii is the Mendocino National Forest Interagency Center while the daily dispatching of those units is obviously in Hawaii.

Consolidation didn't happen easily as some units wanted to hang onto their own dispatch centers due to a resistance to change and the old "we've always done it this way, it can't work any other way" outlook. Some National Forests in Idaho and Montana had a dispatcher for each ranger district and didn't even want to consolidate into one National Forest wide dispatch center, so interagency centers were a big jump for them.

Look for additional consolidation of centers of this type in the future. There was talk of reducing the number of centers in Arizona and New Mexico from twelve to seven, with a reduction to just two, one for each state possibly in the works. Too much reduction will begin to accumulate liabilities in my opinion as dispatchers cannot possibly know the terrain they are dealing with at such a large scale. The federal agencies in California are under some pressure to consolidate into fewer centers, which in my opinion, given the workloads and complexities each agency has, will probably not work as well as it does in Wyoming and Montana.

**EDIT** In these centers frequencies are shared, the best example being the air to ground and air to air frequencies being pooled from those of each agency. There is now a nationwide set of air to ground frequencies named AG1 through AG65 and each center has 2-3 assigned to them. The frequencies used for large incidents, often called the NIFC ("nif cee" - National Interagency Fire Center) frequencies, consist of dozens of frequencies assigned to each agency separately, but shared in this NIFC frequency set. Some centers dispatch all agencies on one or two frequency pairs (output/input for repeaters) such as the two repeaters on the Inyo National Forest where I live, and keep the BLM net as a spare for large incidents. The center in Porterville, California is similar. Keep in mind though that the fire service is more integrated than law enforcement. Large and small mutual aid situations occur in the fire service than those in law enforcement, the reasons for being an entire topic unto itself.
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Last edited by Exsmokey; 03-15-2013 at 1:05 PM.. Reason: additional information
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Old 03-16-2013, 9:25 PM
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In Houston there is a lot of sharing. Narcotics-related operations may appear on almost any agencies' frequencies. Texas DPS, DEA, FBI, ICE, ATF, etc. share local, state and federal frequencies/talkgroups. FBI maintains a lot of the federal radio systems in Houston. The FBI has setup the Marshals on an ICE repeater as their primary for example. CBP Nets are used by many agencies, including a lot of smaller/obscure entities like Inspector Generals for various federal departments when they need to contact a dispatcher for things like running plates.
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