Colorado Springs Fire

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batdude

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was listening last night on what i recall was TAC 4, working a structure fire in the basement (had ammo in there too...bad news for the FF's)


anyway

noticed that the FFs in SCBAs were working THROUGH THE TRUNKING SYSTEM


most were completely unintelligible....lots of "say again" over and over and over...

any idea why they are working this way and not using analog FM on simplex when working at a structure?


just seems kinda ignorant to me....
 
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just seems kinda ignorant to me....

That's kind of harsh...

In any case, Cmd 4 is their "go to" channel for fire ground ops. Depending on the resources called in to the fire, the IC may not have the capability to effectively monitor more than 1 channel at a time. Other district chiefs in the city also monitor what is going on in other parts of the city, and that can't be done on simplex.

And, the LOCAL system is so robust that using a trunked TG for that is not going to kill our system.
 

kc0kp

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was listening last night on what i recall was TAC 4, working a structure fire in the basement (had ammo in there too...bad news for the FF's)


anyway

noticed that the FFs in SCBAs were working THROUGH THE TRUNKING SYSTEM


most were completely unintelligible....lots of "say again" over and over and over...

any idea why they are working this way and not using analog FM on simplex when working at a structure?


just seems kinda ignorant to me....
You have touched on a touchy subject, at least to me. The digital encoders that are part of the P25 standard do not know the difference between background noise and voice. They pass both equally.
For that reason, the National Institute for Standards and Technology in Boulder studied P25 radios in high ambient noise and concluded they do not meet the NFPA requirement for 80% reliability on the fireground.
Since that study, the IAFF, the IAFC, and the NFA have all agreed that digital radios at this point in time are not acceptable for use on the fireground.
The ambient noise tests that the radios failed were in the vicinity of PASS alarms and low air alarms, two of the most vital times a firefighter needs to communicate. This will come to a head some day when there is a LOD death due to this issue.
I know that there are a few firefighters that read this board. They need to let their command staff know about this issue. The Colorado Professional Fire Fighters and the International Association of Fire Fighters are trying to get the word out, set up work arounds and hopefully prevent a tragedy. For firefighters, contact Randy Atkinson, District VP for the IAFF for more information.
 

batdude

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For that reason, the National Institute for Standards and Technology in Boulder studied P25 radios in high ambient noise and concluded they do not meet the NFPA requirement for 80% reliability on the fireground.
Since that study, the IAFF, the IAFC, and the NFA have all agreed that digital radios at this point in time are not acceptable for use on the fireground..

that was exactly what i was talking about... was just picking at the scab so to speak....


and from the above, yep - i purposely worded my post to emphasize that using a digital trunked talkgroup while wearing an SCBA... is just stupid/ignorant/dumb (your choice depending on your perspective)

i can only imagine that the higher members of the chain of command of CSF know what their FFs sound like when working inside a structure fire wearing an SCBA while talking on a digital trunk.... so kc0kp....there's your liability issue right there....lawsuit waiting to happen.
 
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So what is the solution? Carry two different radios? Yeah, not gonna happen.

My FD is using SCBA masks with built-in speakers, so the person using them doesn't have to scream (and consequently further muffle their voice). I don't know that CSFD is. From my *actual field use* everything I have heard on our P25 radios with these masks sounds just fine.

But hey, I'm just an end-user...what do I know?
 

Toneslider12

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I should note that this last line from my previous reply wasn't meant to be a smart-ass question. I'm just saying that as an end-user, I'm not seeing a problem...
I agree with you Bob. As an end user also, I've had no radio problems that weren't operator error or system "digital" noise. Even with saws running the voice transmitions have always been readable to me.

Personally I would rather use a simplex channel for fireground operations just to avoid busy signals if the system is taxed.
 

kc0kp

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I agree with you Bob. As an end user also, I've had no radio problems that weren't operator error or system "digital" noise. Even with saws running the voice transmitions have always been readable to me.

Personally I would rather use a simplex channel for fireground operations just to avoid busy signals if the system is taxed.
First, the solution.
ALL DTRS radios are capable of analog operations. They just have to be programmed that way. ALL DTRS radios should have 8CALL90, 8CALL90D, 8TAC91, 8TAC91D, 8TAC92, 8TAC92D, 8TAC93, 8TAC93D, 8TAC94 and 8TAC94D. These are analog channels and are not affected by the noise. So the argument of having to carry two radios is bogus.
There should me more simplex channels made available as well. The 700 band has the mandate of only digital modulation. An attempt to get an exemption for that is being made at this time.
As for end users are not noticing this issue is also bogus. This was brought to NISTs attention by a local fire department. It was not the government looking for something to do. That department has changed its training for down fire fighter. The procedure is to announce your MAYDAY and location as clearly and succinctly as possible on the radio, then activate the PASS device. The reverse order may not work, it did not in 45% of the tests. If you want to gamble your life on it, be my guest. My job is to keep the names off the wall in Colorado Springs and I will continue to do that to the best of my ability.
Search the internet on AMBE and noise and NIST. Read it for yourself.
Go to the IAFF web site as well.
 
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Eh...I had a reply, but the hell with it.

I guess my experiences are just 'bogus" so no use arguing.
 
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Toneslider12

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First, the solution.
ALL DTRS radios are capable of analog operations. They just have to be programmed that way. ALL DTRS radios should have 8CALL90, 8CALL90D, 8TAC91, 8TAC91D, 8TAC92, 8TAC92D, 8TAC93, 8TAC93D, 8TAC94 and 8TAC94D. These are analog channels and are not affected by the noise. So the argument of having to carry two radios is bogus.

I'm sure most department safety officers would be slightly concerned with personnel at different experience levels changing modes and channels... while on enroute to, or already on scene of a working incident. There would be a greater risk of losing someone in the transition than the said 45% risk of distorted transmissions. I don't know of a department that keeps the 8TAC channels anywhere in their first 1-3 radio banks... or a FD that even uses 8TAC channels for incidents not involving mutual aid.

Someone on scene will have to carry two radios if they want to communicate with anyone not on scene of their incident... like dispatch.


As for end users are not noticing this issue is also bogus.
I've read the studies, I don't argue with the fact that some departments have had problems. I said that "I" have not experienced problems related to ambient noise over powering the voices of firefighters. I've used DTR radios 40-54 hours a week for the past 5 years and have not encountered a problem.

You don't need to prove your experience and knowlege level by condescendingly replying to tell us our experiences are bogus. You may not agree with us, and I don't agree with switching to analog for operations under current radio configurations.
 

batdude

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as a guy who (20 years ago) worked as a volly FF... i certainly respect the opinion of the end user.

i just don't understand why they don't go to analog simplex at a working structure... it would seem to me regardless of how good coverage is on the system... nothing will work as well within a few hundred feet/in a building/underground than analog FM.

just my .02 - but i know one thing - if i was the FF in that basement and was afforded the opportunity to hear what my audio sounded like passing through the trunk....i think i'd be more than a little PO'd.


doug
 

n0doz

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There's a project based up in Boulder that's exploring this very subject. They're testing various solutions, like an SCBA-mounted mic. I don't remember the web site but I just saw an article this week in one of the newsletters I get by email (Homeland1, etc.) One of the requirements I saw was that the solution cannot lengthen the time a FF takes to get into bunker gear. Another dealt with what do you do if you take off your mask with mic - how do you stay in contact?
A lot more complex and equipment-intensive than I would've guessed.
 

kd8jhc

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This is an active lawsuit right now in the Cincinnati area, filed by the families of two firefighters who died in a house fire when the floor collapsed on them. There were supposedly mayday calls that nobody received. We're on a P25 system.

"Broxterman, the suit alleges, repeatedly made radio "mayday" calls for help but wasn't heard or understood because of the faulty equipment."

Colerain firefighter's parents file suit | cincinnati.com | nky.Com
 

kd8jhc

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This is an active lawsuit right now in the Cincinnati area, filed by the families of two firefighters who died in a house fire when the floor collapsed on them. There were supposedly mayday calls that nobody received. We're on a P25 system.

"Broxterman, the suit alleges, repeatedly made radio "mayday" calls for help but wasn't heard or understood because of the faulty equipment."

I wonder if something was really "faulty" or if it was just digitally garbled like so many of the other transmissions I hear on this radio system.

Colerain firefighter's parents file suit | cincinnati.com | nky.Com
 

Toneslider12

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This is an active lawsuit right now in the Cincinnati area, filed by the families of two firefighters who died in a house fire when the floor collapsed on them. There were supposedly mayday calls that nobody received. We're on a P25 system.

"Broxterman, the suit alleges, repeatedly made radio "mayday" calls for help but wasn't heard or understood because of the faulty equipment."

I wonder if something was really "faulty" or if it was just digitally garbled like so many of the other transmissions I hear on this radio system.

Colerain firefighter's parents file suit | cincinnati.com | nky.Com
Thanks for posting the article link. It sounds like the family is going after everyone from the homeowners to the gear makers though. I'm curious if both firefighters never made it out alive, how anyone knew they made radio calls which no one heard. They couldn't have told anyone after the fact and no body else apparently heard the calls... I'm curious how the family could know.

It's very sad that two firefighters lost their lives, but it's a dangerous job. Sueing the world won't change what happened.
 

kd8jhc

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Good question. Here's what I found:

"The report says Broxterman made several attempts to call for water for a hose but got it only after another firefighter's radio request reached the person operating the pump. Later, a firefighter near Broxterman heard her call Mayday three times, but she got a busy tone from the digital radio.

Conn [FD spokesman] said the department's "fairly new" digital radio technology seems to broadcast only one voice at a time, a common problem. Fire equipment researchers are studying whether radios are malfunctioning in hot temperatures."

Report lists missteps up to firefighter deaths | cincinnati.com | Cincinnati.Com

Incidentally, there was an incident here a couple weeks ago where a traffic stop turned into a shooting match between a thug and police. From the cruiser cam video, I can hear the officer IN THE LINE OF GUNFIRE trying to key up her radio screaming "SHOTS FIRED SHOTS FIRED"...which comes back with the same type of busy tone. Luckily another officer came in and finished off the perp. But it's kind of unnerving to know that these systems might fail...and that my ham radios, at least with how the digital systems are set up now, are actually more reliable than what police and fire are using.
 

Toneslider12

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Good additional info to have. In both situations a busy tone wouldn't be a radio problem (unless the excessive heat issue is proved true) but instead a taxed repeater site or sites. That is something that could be solved by adding more sites or using more simplex channels for fireground ops. We encounter the same problem in the front range during major events like the Windsor tornado, blizzards etc. Everyone from public safety, public works, airports, schools etc are all competing for repeater time.

The system is made to carry only one transmission at a time to eliminate walking all over eachother. A danger of VHF is everyone talking at once which causes more problems than if users have to wait in the repeater line.

CCNC says most busy signals in CO last only 1-2 seconds on average... which isn't bad. End users also have to know how the system works. If they key up and get a busy tone, then continue to key up over and over again, they put themselves at the end of the line out of frustration. If a busy tone comes across the user just needs to wait until the repeater acknowleges them, then they can get out.

It certainly isn't a perfect system; but a P25 that is built the way it should be with users conscious about busies and balancing the load with simplex is reliable I think.
 

kd8jhc

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Yeah, I certainly understand what you're saying. The problem is, I guess, that when the radio user has a gun pointed at them, or is inside a burning building that may be collapsing on them (i.e., a critical situation) those few seconds could be the difference between life or death. The other 99% of the time, it might not be so urgent.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a P25 or digital hater. The technology is amazing. I'm not sure how many talkgroups we have on our combined county/city P25 system here, but it's quite impressive. There are close to 30 jurisdictions on the system. The coverage on our statewide system (MARCS) is incredible. But with most incredible things, there are compromises.

I'm not sure what the policy is about simplex, but I rarely hear of anyone using it. A lot of the time, for tactical ops and "secure" communications, they will switch to an encrypted talkgroup, which probably helps balance the load. But to my knowledge, all fireground operations are on the unencrypted, digitally repeated talkgroups. How does your department do it?

I will be very interested in knowing if this "digital radio + heat" issue is more than empty speculation. I have had video cards and CPUs go down because of overheating...it's certainly no secret that when digital stuff gets hot, it can flake out. Analog electronics seem to generate more heat on their own (I'm thinking about my Motorola HTs, tube amplifiers, etc.) and maybe they handle it better too. God help Motorola if someone does prove it was a flawed design.
 
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