• Effective immediately we will be deleting, without notice, any negative threads or posts that deal with the use of encryption and streaming of scanner audio.

    We've noticed a huge increase in rants and negative posts that revolve around agencies going to encryption due to the broadcasting of scanner audio on the internet. It's now worn out and continues to be the same recycled rants. These rants hijack the threads and derail the conversation. They no longer have a place anywhere on this forum other than in the designated threads in the Rants forum in the Tavern.

    If you violate these guidelines your post will be deleted without notice and an infraction will be issued. We are not against discussion of this issue. You just need to do it in the right place. For example:
    https://forums.radioreference.com/rants/224104-official-thread-live-audio-feeds-scanners-wait-encryption.html

Official USFS/NPS/BLM/CDF Information No Longer Available

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SCPD

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Well, I suppose it was going to happen eventually. About a month ago I requested a copy of the Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Region (R5) annual Frequency Guide from a source I had been using since my retirement in 1999. I was advised that the Washington Office of the USFS was no longer allowing them to be distributed to non-employees and current employees that did not have a need to program radios. My sources for frequency information for 7 other USFS regions have been drying up in the last 2-3 years as security procedures for ordering internal documents have been tightened and now require a password to order over the internet and other procedures to order via mail/telephone.

Those of you who have been getting frequency information for the Southwest Region (R3 covering Arizona/New Mexico) from the internet by downloading the PDF file of their Geographical Area Mobilization Guide should realize that the frequency information portion of the Guide will probably require a password in the future.

Another good source of CDF information in the form of their mobile/handheld channel plan is presently widely available on the internet, and is presently posted on another current thread. I suspect that this source will be unavailble in the next year or two.

I've been told by a friend in the USFS and another in the NPS that their have been some frequency changes for Yosemite National Park and for the Bakersfield, Folsom, and Hollister Field Offices of the BLM. These folks only know that changes have been made but don't know what the frequencies are. The CDF channel plan posted on the "It's Fire Season" thread does not reflect these changes.

Pretty interesting considering I'm a retired USFS employee and have been told that the official policy is that the guides cannot be distributed to someone like me, even if I were to promise I would not share the info, and use it for my personal use only. The trouble I see is that so many folks monitor the fire and natural resource services, call in information that can be helpful, or use the information they hear about a nearby fire to make decisions about pulling up stakes and getting out of a campsite, summer home, or residence when there is a nearby wildland fire. If you see a smoke when you are recreating in a wildlland setting, it is comforting to be able to hear if the initial attack is getting a handle on the situation. Those folks in charge of making this policy are no doubt aware of these benefits and have reasons for making the policy they have based on some information I have not seen. There must have been some abuse by enough folks, in the same ways over and over, that they had "enough is enough."
 
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Kirk

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Of course if you still have friends in USFS and visit them while you're in possession of a close-call capable scanner, you're in business.

In the days before the internet, getting USFS and other federal frequencies was pretty darned challenging. The internet made life easier, especially when USFS published PDFs of the data. Now it looks like we're taking another step back, but hopefully this time, we can all work together on our intel and use sites like Radio Reference to collaberate.

My folks live in an unincorporated rural area of El Dorado County. Their back yard butts up to the El Dorado National Forest, and there are no local media sources where they are. When a fire or other disaster hits, the scanner I programmed for my dad (he's not a radio geek like his son) is his information source.

I haven't heard many stories of people jamming or otherwise abusing USFS/BLM/NPS frequencies, so I'm not sure what the deal is. I've noticed a trend towards excluding the public from law enforcement activities over the years, and it's troubling to me.
 

SCPD

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The story you related about your parents is one I've experienced ever since I moved away from southern Calif. some 33 years ago. The lack of media sources that put mobile units near the scene of an incident, be it law enforcement, EMS, or fire makes the scanner the best source of information, considering its limitations, available in rural areas. When I visit people in large cities I find very few people that are familiar with scanners. In constrast when I visit folks in rural areas I find a very high percentage of scanner owners. I've gone to dinner at some people's homes and they often leave their scanners on during dinner, or have them in the livnig room. The number of businesses that have a scanner turned on is more likely in rural areas also. The smaller the town, the more likely this is going to happen. Scanners are more a part of rural culture than they are of urban culture.

The problem I see with this is those who do not understand the limitations of getting verified information over a scanner. It is easy to take things heard, out of context or to not realize that you are only hearing a portion of the communication about an incident.

For rural area people the lack of information on radio systems will affect them more than for the people who live in large metro/urban areas.
 
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SCPD

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I haven't heard many stories of people jamming or otherwise abusing USFS/BLM/NPS frequencies, so I'm not sure what the deal is. I've noticed a trend towards excluding the public from law enforcement activities over the years, and it's troubling to me.
I would imagine that the infomation of jamming or otherwise using scanners to create problems for these agenicies is contained in investigation or incident files, which are not easily available, or in a lot of cases accessible at all, to the public. So our perception of the problem is likely to be very different than that of the policy makers.
 
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hotdjdave

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California Public Records Act; FOIA

The California Public Records Act is a law that requires any and all California governenment agencies (state, county, city, local, etc.), to make available, upon request, any record or document in all types of medium or format.
Also see: http://www.thefirstamendment.org/publicrecordsact.pdf

As Custodian of Records for my former agency, I took several classes/courses on this subject. Basically, anything that is written down or recorded by any form of media, must be made available to the public, upon reasonable request. (This is why we were told to be very careful what we wrote or typed). There are only a few exceptions (open or pending criminal investigation is one of them).

I am pretty sure this does not apply to federal agencies, though. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) must be used to obtain documents or information through this channel.
Also see: http://www.fcc.gov/foia and http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Freedom+of+information+act

You can make formal requests all day long and be denied. But when you invoke the CPRA or the FOIA, it changes alot of things and you get what you want (usually).
 
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BirkenVogt

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If I remember correctly though, they can charge a fee for it since it presumably takes staff hours to dig it out and they are not going to let you dig through their files.

Birken
 

Kingscup

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Exsmokey said:
Well, I suppose it was going to happen eventually. About a month ago I requested a copy of the Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Region (R5) annual Frequency Guide from a source I had been using since my retirement in 1999. I was advised that the Washington Office of the USFS was no longer allowing them to be distributed to non-employees and current employees that did not have a need to program radios.
This is funny because the last time I looked, you could go to the FCC website and look up any frequency on the website. I have not looked up any federal freqs so I don't know if they are available but local and state freqs are available.
 

hotdjdave

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Fees

BirkenVogt said:
If I remember correctly though, they can charge a fee for it since it presumably takes staff hours to dig it out and they are not going to let you dig through their files. --Birken
You are correct. However, there have been changes over this issue because some agencies were charging exorbitant fees to either discourage requests or to make profit. Now agencies are only allowed to charge the actual fee of reproducing the material requested; unreasonable fees can be reported.
 

Kirk

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Kingscup said:
This is funny because the last time I looked, you could go to the FCC website and look up any frequency on the website. I have not looked up any federal freqs so I don't know if they are available but local and state freqs are available.
Nope, no federal freqs, so it isn't as funny as you thought.

As for State (ie: CDF) freqs, it would take hundreds of hours of listening, travel and luck to determine their channel plan based on FCC licensing.
 

mkewman

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besides, with the FCC you just get a bunch of frequencies, you don't get them listed as "Tac or Dispatch" or whatever like you do here on RR ;).

you get them listed as "FREQUENCIES USED FOR EMERGENCY PURPOSES". or some crappy vague description.
 

echo174

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one thing i have noticed over a couple of years now the forest serv.dont want us to know anything about what there doing i drove to our dist. headquarters to see if they had a list of freq.they asked me why did i need the list i told them im a contract firefighter they gave me a phone number for there radio tech.i called him and he told me he couldnt give me nothing becouse it illigal and he could lose his job but he could give me my local fire freq.for the county i went to my oes office here in my county he told me they would not give him there forest service channels what is the big deal they dont talk much about anything when they use there radios so whats the deal on being secret.
 

BirkenVogt

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I can give you some reasons:

1. Often times there are "Ricky Rescues" out there who will use their radios to report all sorts of bull such as dead deer in the road, etc. and giving them freqs sometimes will give them in their mind a license to use it all the time. There is no telling what these yay-hoos think sometimes and they love to pester commercial radio techs for long periods which is why they clam up when people come asking for freqs primarily.

2. Infrequently there are jammers who will get on and jam/hold up repeaters, make false reports, etc.

3. Some radio guys just like to feel like they are the only ones who know a certain "secret"

Birken
 

Kirk

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BirkenVogt said:
I can give you some reasons:
3. Some radio guys just like to feel like they are the only ones who know a certain "secret"
Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner! I've seen this reason more often than any of the others.

I'm more familiar with Ricky Rescues than I'd care to admit, but this problem is easy to address: Since they think they're important, they'll likely identify themselves, at which time they can be dealt with.

Jammers? Enlist the help of the local hams, who often like the challenge and welcome opportunities to help pubilc safety. DF the jammer and let local LE hook 'em and book 'em.
 
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