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Old 01-13-2010, 11:54 AM
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Default FCC/Motorola License

I work for a fire dept. and we are currently looking into legally purchasing some programming equipment. What I am trying to find out is, do you have to have some sort of an FCC license to program fire dept. radios. I do understand that you have to sign a licensing agreement with motorola. But, I have looked all over the FCC's website and could not find anything on "radio programming" that pertains to what I need.
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Old 01-13-2010, 4:10 PM
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We are in the same process at our fire dept and from all the dealers I have spoken too, as well as other departments, you do not need a license to be able to program the radios. You just need a license for the spectrum/frequency you are using.
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Old 01-13-2010, 7:28 PM
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Just make sure that you have an MOU or some other sort of "official agreement" in place should you program any frequencies that are licensed by others. It is a violation of FCC Rules to transmit on frequencies you are not authorized to do so on. You also want to verify that the "other agency" that you are programming to has a valid FCC license and this can be found on the FCC website by either agency name or call sign.

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Old 01-13-2010, 7:44 PM
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Of course, it can't hurt to have said programming technician NABER or GROL certified.
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Old 01-13-2010, 9:43 PM
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As long as you have the software & equipment (be it legal or not - please let's not get into that again), you can program away. I would, however, advocate obtaining the software legally, that way you don't have any problem if someone comes knocking.
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Old 01-14-2010, 12:24 AM
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Some things to consider...

First, if the radios are 'officially' maintained by someone else and there's a problem that may even remotely be caused by you using the software, you WILL be blamed and the repair or reprogramming WILL be billed to your agency. The contract with the company that 'officially' maintains the radios may prohibit anyone else from working on or programming the radios. Before you start down this road, be sure you do your homework and clear up any legal issues.

If the radios are on a trunking system, you may need a system key to do any programming of the radios on that trunking system. This key would need to come from the folks that run this system (or their assigned radio shop) and since you could easily do something that may cause issues on that system (e.g. fat finger a parameter so your newly programmed TAC2 channel is really another agency's SWAT channel), the key may be difficult or impossible to get from them.

You could open yourselves up to liability by programming an unlicensed frequency or otherwise violating the terms of a license (e.g. adding more mobile units than authorized by the license). This may be quite innocent but still causes a violation (e.g. your chief asks a neighboring chief to allow your radios to have their dispatch and fireground channels on your radios to assist with mutual aid calls). This thread describes how a radio shop was given a "Notice Of Violation" from the FCC for programming a frequency that had expired several years ago into a long time customer's radio. While the thread goes on about how the FCC shouldn't have done this, it does show that you must be careful when you do radio programming and validate everything that you change. http://forums.radioreference.com/ind...adio-shop.html
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Old 01-16-2010, 8:09 PM
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to: jroskos

how did you get your chief to be ok with the liability end of things
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Old 01-17-2010, 8:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bullseye1584 View Post
to: jroskos

how did you get your chief to be ok with the liability end of things
Well...first off we are in a very rural area. None of the fire departments around here use digital or trunked systems, so programming them (from what we have seen) will be quite easy and we aren't really worried about getting any of the radios programmed incorrectly. Also the area we are in, all the licenses are owned by the county, which also makes it easy to determine whether they are legit when programming other agencies radios and also makes it easier to find the licenses you want to program in. Also, because of our small communities and yet large coverage area, between all our agencies we all have each others frequencies programmed, since we often have a lot of mutual-aid.

There really shouldn't be any worry about programming your radios as long as you know what you are doing. One of the things we are going to do just to make sure everything is correct is hire one of the local Motorola dealers to come on out and spend a couple hours teaching a few of us how to use the software correctly.

As to the part brought up about making sure you don't exceed the number of allowed units on your frequencies, that can be easily checked to see how much you are allowed both on this site and the FCC. We are allowed 320 units on most of our frequencies and as I said earlier, all the agencies is our area have each others frequencies programmed in. Well one thing that is different with us compared to most fire and ems agencies is that we don't outfit each person with portables. As a matter of fact, only the captains, chief, and asst chief have portables, and this is how all the agencies in our area operate, so having to worry about exceeding the licensed amount of units allowed on a frequency isn't really a thought in our minds.

The major reason for us going to programming our own radios was a couple years ago we had a major fire where we had to bring every department in over 200 miles (I think it was something like 97 departments, plus the national guard and federal fire fighters) to help put it out. Well when the state showed up with there multi million dollar command center to bridge all our communications together, it didn't work! And now they have been deploying more of these newer ones across the state and the last couple trials I heard also had problems. This is why we want the ability to program radios, we need the ability to communicate with other agencies in major situations especially.

Hope this helped.
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Old 01-17-2010, 12:07 PM
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that does help. thanks for everything to all who replied.
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