Emergency beep tones

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norcalbusa

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(Not sure what forum to post this in, move as you see fit)

We've all heard those emergency beeps every 6-10 seconds when a unit wants an open channel during a search, felony stop, etc. I get that.

I wonder (depending on the agency) how officers can possibly stand to have that going off in their ear (or car or hip) endlessly- as the tone is sometimes so very loud- and it ties up the air. Radio 101 is to listen for traffic before you start talking, especially if you are just turning on your radio (to go 10-8 or whatever), so why the tone? I often hear guys telling dispatch to kill the tone, yet hold the channel- and that works fine. So why the tone beyond the initial "hold the air" broadcast (or say the first minute)?
 

lebrunmn

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Norcal-

The main reason for the tone--at least when we were taught radio procedures--is to warn others switching onto the channel that someone is holding the air for priority traffic. We were always told to listen on the channel before transmitting, and the tone is there to warn folks that the channel is in use. Admittedly, 5 or 6 seconds is a bit too long for most folks to wait before transmitting, but that's the intent. Also, even if you're already on the channel, listening to a radio all day can make you immune to any transmissions except the ones that mention your specific callsign. After awhile, you just tune it out--the tone helps remind you that the channel is busy.
 

timkilbride

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I have heard it on several large departments. From what I could tell the emergency tone timer would re-set after every transmission. So as long as there was radio traffic going on, you didn't hear the tone. Once there was a break in the action, they you would start to hear the tone.

Tim
 

SteveC0625

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We sat in a committee meeting for radio operations with our largest department - over 700 sworn officers. I listened to the officers ***** and ***** about the tone. Finally I said, "You have a choice; accept the tone, or convince your brother officers that 'All units, hold all radio traffic.' means each and every one of them who is not involved in the incident at hand." They changed the subject immediately and it was never brought up again.
 

norcalbusa

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I think a much lower volume and very low power so folks can talk over it (if technically possible) might work better than what I hear, here out west...With all going on on-scene of a hot call- I can't imagine that damn thing piped into my ear.
 

Duster

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The marker tone (that's what we call it) doesn't sound that loud in your earpiece or over your speaker, unless you have the volume cranked. Also, someone keying the radio will override the marker and transmit clearly. When there is no radio traffic, the marker will again start every 5-6 seconds.

Bear in mind that my comments above only pertain to the few agencies I have worked for (or monitored); each system is unique; your mileage may vary.

The marker is a very nice reminder that the radio is tied up; I can't count the number of times that someone will either get preoccupied and (without conscious thought) pick up the mic and say something (myself included). It really isn't that uncommon on an "unmarked" channel.

Consider this example: It is a long clearance (large building search, ongoing incident, etc), and there is no marker tone. You are not directly involved, but are still doing normal patrol. You make a contact, remembering to not get on the radio. You start interacting with Joe-citizen, and get distracted dealing with him. Out of sheer habit (because you've only done this a hundred-thousand times before), you key the radio, broadcast your ID, and request a 10-29 subject. About the time you unkey the mic, you realize that "Oh $%^&!!! There's a clearance!!" Of course, by then its too late. At the very least, you are the butt of a lot of jokes. At the worst, you covered critical incident traffic that got someone hurt or worse.
 

mmckenna

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I checked our Zetron console this afternoon. 750Hz every 20 seconds. It's level is low enough that it isn't disruptive, and space out long enough that it doesn't get too annoying. Then again, I don't recall the last time it was used. Things are usually pretty quiet here.
 

Duster

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My local SO uses theirs regularly, and they activated it this morning while I was on my way to work. So...I checked it out: 700hz tone, approx .25 to .5 sec, low volume, every 10 seconds. Like most systems out here, radio traffic will override the tone, so you don't miss traffic.
 
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