fire dept wants to go to marcs2 but still talk to vhf depts

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dizwiz

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hello,
i am writing this on behalf of a buddy who works for a local fire dept.

he, and another guy, have been tasked with researching and upgrading their vhf system (15x.xxx mhz) to marcs 2.

some of his concerns are :
1. being able to communicate with small township fire depts still operating on vhf
2. what type of equipment (kenwood vs motorola) is best.
3. interoperability

this dept is in the NE ohio area where there are some digital 800 mhz systems analog cc/digital voice (ex. summit co 800 mhz), 700 mhz marcs-isp and vhf systems still being used. i imagine he will want the capability to communicate / interoperate with all 3

he mentioned something about apx?6000 (firefighter?) radios to buy.

i told him to keep his existing radios (and antennae) to be able to communicate with vhf departments and then add the motorola radios on top of those (with their antennae)....

is this generally what people do, or do you have any better suggestions?

he contacted me bc he knows that i monitor radio systems as a hobby and might have some good ideas

any help is appreciated. i want to see my friend succeed

lastly....what should i tell him about tdma - should he make sure radios are phase 2 capable or is that a long ways off.... ?
 

gtaman

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hello,
i am writing this on behalf of a buddy who works for a local fire dept.

he, and another guy, have been tasked with researching and upgrading their vhf system (15x.xxx mhz) to marcs 2.

some of his concerns are :
1. being able to communicate with small township fire depts still operating on vhf
2. what type of equipment (kenwood vs motorola) is best.
3. interoperability

this dept is in the NE ohio area where there are some digital 800 mhz systems analog cc/digital voice (ex. summit co 800 mhz), 700 mhz marcs-isp and vhf systems still being used. i imagine he will want the capability to communicate / interoperate with all 3

he mentioned something about apx?6000 (firefighter?) radios to buy.

i told him to keep his existing radios (and antennae) to be able to communicate with vhf departments and then add the motorola radios on top of those (with their antennae)....

is this generally what people do, or do you have any better suggestions?

he contacted me bc he knows that i monitor radio systems as a hobby and might have some good ideas

any help is appreciated. i want to see my friend succeed

lastly....what should i tell him about tdma - should he make sure radios are phase 2 capable or is that a long ways off.... ?
I would contact the MARCS office. They will get everything sorted out for you. If you want to continue to talk to VHF departments then you would most likely need and APX7000 VHF/7/800. Your FD may qualify for a grant from MARCS so I would ask your FD to get in contact with them.
 

DJ11DLN

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My department just kept the VHF radios (Kenwoods) and added the EFJ radios to the apparatus for the Safe-T system. Handheld solutions would be my priority; it's easy to stuff a second radio into a cab, more problematic to cart a pair of H-T's around on a scene (BTDT many times).
 

LTR

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Kenwood also makes a dual band portable radio through their EF Johnson division, the VP900. It should do everything he would need in VHF/700-800 and P25. These radios are in use on the MARCS system.
 

mszabo2000

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Kenwood, Harris, Johnson, and Motorola all make quality radios. Price and budget will factor into the decision but they also need to consider post-sale support.

Regarding IO with VHF users, I would not recommend dual band radios, they're not worth the extra cost. I would install crossband repeaters in command vehicles. Upon arrival they can patch any VHF channel to a MARCS talkgroup or better yet, a simplex 700/800 channel. Their radio provider can recommend a crossband system that will meet their needs.


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Firefox89

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Kenwood, Harris, Johnson, and Motorola all make quality radios. Price and budget will factor into the decision but they also need to consider post-sale support.

Regarding IO with VHF users, I would not recommend dual band radios, they're not worth the extra cost. I would install crossband repeaters in command vehicles. Upon arrival they can patch any VHF channel to a MARCS talkgroup or better yet, a simplex 700/800 channel. Their radio provider can recommend a crossband system that will meet their needs.


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Or the dispatch center they use can also patch in the MARCS TG with the VHF TG. I have done that as a dispatcher before and it works well.
 

krokus

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Which radio brand makes better radios is like the which brand of cars is better.

Check with the MARCS office/website. They might have a list of approved radios, like Michigan does, for MPSCS. You can check which dual-band mobiles would work for your needs, but would avoid the dual-band handhelds. Going with two single-band radios, possibly with a patching ability, could be useful.

Do not forget antenna placement. The VHF antennas should get the spot(s) near the center of the vehicle roof, as the higher frequencies require shorter ground planes.

Under the KISS principle, has someone checked with the neighboring departments, to see if they are moving onto MARCS?

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mszabo2000

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Or the dispatch center they use can also patch in the MARCS TG with the VHF TG. I have done that as a dispatcher before and it works well.
Agree, but that method assumes the dispatch center has the capability to patch between the two systems and the two systems provide coverage in the mutual aid area, especially in-building coverage. Operating on simplex channels with vehicle installed crossband repeaters eliminates both issues.
 

medic611

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Agree, but that method assumes the dispatch center has the capability to patch between the two systems and the two systems provide coverage in the mutual aid area, especially in-building coverage. Operating on simplex channels with vehicle installed crossband repeaters eliminates both issues.
The need to patch should be done on the fireground especially now that equipment is readily available to do so. A portable that can do 2 or 3 different bands can only talk on 1 channel or talkgroup. just the same as a single radio. I know many departments where an IC carries more than one portable at a time to listen to traffic.
 

wa8pyr

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The need to patch should be done on the fireground especially now that equipment is readily available to do so. A portable that can do 2 or 3 different bands can only talk on 1 channel or talkgroup. just the same as a single radio. I know many departments where an IC carries more than one portable at a time to listen to traffic.
Actually, patching should only be done if absolutely necessary, and should never be done (especially on scene) unless it's been carefully coordinated. If everybody and their uncle patches A to B and A to C and A to D, you can end up with a "circular patch" (also called the ping-pong effect) where everybody's patches keep everybody else's patches hot and they transmit continuously.

If an incident gets so big that patching is necessary, it's time to put NIMS into effect and call in a COM-L to start coordinating communications. If patching is "needed" on a daily basis, the local communications plan is ineffective and needs to be revisited.
 
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budevans

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hello,
i am writing this on behalf of a buddy who works for a local fire dept.

he, and another guy, have been tasked with researching and upgrading their vhf system (15x.xxx mhz) to marcs 2.

some of his concerns are :
1. being able to communicate with small township fire depts still operating on vhf
2. what type of equipment (kenwood vs motorola) is best.
3. interoperability
dizwiz,

For the following reasons. I would suggest that your fire dept friends reach out to Chief Mike Laskey of the Parma Fire Department.

Chief Laskey was formerly the Fire Chief for Brooklyn Hts. At that time he was also a Fire Captain for Parma. Captain Laskey represented the Parma Fire Department during Parma's investigation and eventual move from EDACS to P25.

Last year there was a large warehouse fire in Brookly Hts. All eight of the Cuyahoga Valley's fire departments provided mutual aid. Additionally the following three departments were also involved, Parma (Parma P25), Garfied Hts. (GCRCN P25) and Maple Hts. (GCRCN P25).

Parma acted as the onsite incendent command, coordinating the communications with all of the 11 departments. Coordinating that many departments with multiple comms capabilites didn't just happen. It was the result of careful planning.

Based on what I've monitored. Here's my view of the current (mixed bag of comms) setup for the Cuyahoga Valley Region.

Communities: Main band, additional comms
Brooklyn Hts., VHF 150 Mhz, Mutual Aid Parma P25
Cuyahoga Hts., VHF 150 Mhz
Valley View, VHF 150Mhz, Mutual Aid GCRCN P25
Newburgh Hts., VHF 150 Mhz
Independence, VHF 150 Mhz
Seven Hills, VHF 150 Mhz, Mutual Aid Parma P25 and Broadview Hts. GCRCN P25
Broadview Hts., GCRCN P25 and Mutual Aid Seven Hills VHF and Parma P25
Brecksville, VHF 150 Mhz
 

medic611

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Actually, patching should only be done if absolutely necessary, and should never be done (especially on scene) unless it's been carefully coordinated. If everybody and their uncle patches A to B and A to C and A to D, you can end up with a "circular patch" (also called the ping-pong effect) where everybody's patches keep everybody else's patches hot and they transmit continuously.

If an incident gets so big that patching is necessary, it's time to put NIMS into effect and call in a COM-L to start coordinating communications. If patching is "needed" on a daily basis, the local communications plan is ineffective and needs to be revisited.
I disagree about it not being done on scene, as I personally have been involved in several incidents where we patched federal. state and local in central Ohio long before MARCS was popular. It is vital to have plans in place and not just shoot from the hip. However long ago the state Sherriff's association made communications and being able to cross patch with vehicles placed around the state to do so. The Kirkersville incident was likely patched no less. Doing it on the scene can be done portable to portable thus limiting the need for people to carry multiple radios to talk across platforms. Pickaway County had the ability to patch to every county surrounding them, I know this because I worked with them on this for 2 different counties. They even had the ability to cross federal to local entities. That included a mobile set up that also had the cables to do a portable to portable conversion as well. That was used during a fugitive suspect wanted for murder from Fairfield county that Pickaway, Fairfield, and the US marshall's office used during that event.
 

phask

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Hardee har har :)

This is pertaining to LEO, but same issues.

Most MARCS users have zilch knowledge of being able to use a different TG without someone prior to an incident happening.

I've heard it again and again - even OSP dispatchers trying to patch a SO and OSP, and both are on MARCS and HAVE inter-agency TG's available.

However, I was surprised yesterday as I did hear 1 or 2 transmissions by a OSP on Licking SO TG. This is the first I have ever heard when it was not per-arraigned.

Fire is easier - unless it is other counties, although most VFD's on the edge have both freqs. available (non Marcs).




I disagree about it not being done on scene, as I personally have been involved in several incidents where we patched federal. state and local in central Ohio long before MARCS was popular. It is vital to have plans in place and not just shoot from the hip. However long ago the state Sherriff's association made communications and being able to cross patch with vehicles placed around the state to do so. The Kirkersville incident was likely patched no less. Doing it on the scene can be done portable to portable thus limiting the need for people to carry multiple radios to talk across platforms. Pickaway County had the ability to patch to every county surrounding them, I know this because I worked with them on this for 2 different counties. They even had the ability to cross federal to local entities. That included a mobile set up that also had the cables to do a portable to portable conversion as well. That was used during a fugitive suspect wanted for murder from Fairfield county that Pickaway, Fairfield, and the US marshall's office used during that event.
 

fyrfyter33

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Actually, patching should only be done if absolutely necessary, and should never be done (especially on scene) unless it's been carefully coordinated. If everybody and their uncle patches A to B and A to C and A to D, you can end up with a "circular patch" (also called the ping-pong effect) where everybody's patches keep everybody else's patches hot and they transmit continuously.

If an incident gets so big that patching is necessary, it's time to put NIMS into effect and call in a COM-L to start coordinating communications. If patching is "needed" on a daily basis, the local communications plan is ineffective and needs to be revisited.


Not true. We patch TGs on the fly all the time inside a command unit. It's a very minor thing to do.

I'm sure there was an ICS system in place. Not every situation requires a full on EOC activation.

A COM-L isn't needed for most incidents, including Multi-alarm fires, missing persons searches and any other number of incidents. The incident really needs to affect a large area or significantly affect multiple jurisdictions before a full on EMA/EOC activation is needed. Even to that point, there aren't enough COM-Ls in Ohio for one to be immediately available. It could be 12-24 hours to get one.

Someone has to take those reins in the short term.
 

mmckenna

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If you already have VHF radios, then just keep those. No need to reinvent the wheel.
Add the MARCS radios you need.

It'll be a lot cheaper that way.

Dual band mobiles are expensive and while there are some handy features, you probably don't need those. Two separate radios is more reliable, more flexible, and as I said, a lot cheaper.

For portables, not everyone would need a dual band portable. Maybe the captain, or a chief/asst. chief.

Unless your department has more money than you know what to do with, consider the options and keep in mind that the system you have now probably works pretty well for what you need. Look before you leap.
 

wa8pyr

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Not true. We patch TGs on the fly all the time inside a command unit. It's a very minor thing to do.

I'm sure there was an ICS system in place. Not every situation requires a full on EOC activation.

A COM-L isn't needed for most incidents, including Multi-alarm fires, missing persons searches and any other number of incidents. The incident really needs to affect a large area or significantly affect multiple jurisdictions before a full on EMA/EOC activation is needed. Even to that point, there aren't enough COM-Ls in Ohio for one to be immediately available. It could be 12-24 hours to get one.

Someone has to take those reins in the short term.
The difference there is that it's being done from a command unit, so there's obviously some coordination going on.

I've seen or responded to too many incidents where everybody and their uncle had some means of patching, whether through a console, or in a responders vehicle, or whatever. Everybody patched the operations channel to their own channel without coordinating with anyone else, and the result was the ping-pong effect. Instead of effective communications, there were basically no communications until all the patches were killed.

This is one of the reasons MARCS has a pretty strict policy on patching, and they're pretty firm on enforcing it.

Patching on scene can be done, but it has to be done in the context of proper planning and coordination, or it can cause more harm than good.
 

fyrfyter33

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There's a whole technological limit part to how this applies to MARCS.

Very few entities have a device for cross patching. They are expensive to purchase, require ongoing updates, new cables and you have to use them and train on them, otherwise you forget how they work.

Locally, I only know of 4 available cross patching devices in the UASI 6 region.

That's not a lot, and even less if not everyone knows how to use it.

I really think you are making a bigger deal out of this than what it is.

This isn't cross patching a bunch of ham repeaters together.

Based upon the MARCS system technology, it requires an advanced device that most places don't have or can't afford.

I have a bigger issue explaining encryption to agencies, and how you cannot patch an encrypted talkgroup, if you want it to stay encrypted.

For this thread, the most sense is either dual mode APX radios, or maintaining separate MARCS and VHF radios.
 
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