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Fire/ Forest Departments and BK radios....

CopperWhopper67

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Mar 22, 2018
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Northern California
I'm not sure if this is the proper place to ask this but I have been curious for a while about how it seems that many fire and forestry agencies predominantly use BendixKing portables in the field as opposed to Motorola and the like normally used by their law enforcement counterparts. I understand that many FD's in metro areas will use other radios and some forestry services do too but CalFire, USFS, and other very large agencies use BK units. I've even seen the TSA use exclusively BK radios in some airports. What I am curious about is why use of BK equipment seems limited to these few sectors of professional radio communications? I apologize if I am not clearly communicanting my question so if further clarification is needed then I'll be happy to do so!

Thank you!
 

TampaTyron

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Feb 1, 2010
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Tampa, FL
BK for forestry is because that has been the standard for a long time, with programming, mics, batteries,and cloning cables being fairly standard. For TSA it came down to price. TT
 

MTS2000des

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Cobb County, GA Stadium Crime Zone
Had a presentation a few years ago by some USFS radio support folks. I asked about BK's and why they were the go to: simple answer was bulletproof FPP and cloning capability, availability of disposable battery packs, and much lower cost than comparable radios of the time (the XTS5000 was the like/kind/quality at the time and much more expensive).

A core of BK's business is wildland firefighting. They've got a corner on the market like MSI does with law enforcement. BK makes some pretty decent stuff, they're made in the continental US, and all their support is based here. The folks who develop the firmware/software are here too, which is a big selling point with agencies who have large deployments. They are very responsive to customer requests for features, bug squashing, etc.

Many wildland firefighters that aren't USFS folks are funded locally/state and BK's price difference between a KNG Command portable and say, and APX6000XE with FPP is night and day.
 

rsmith7799

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Sep 20, 2006
Messages
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Location
Arroyo Grande, CA
I think the others have answered your question. But from my viewpoint, NIFC have used BK radios for years. They are easy to repair, parts are plentiful and most COMT's can do the repairs. The programming is simple. Motorola is complicated and has "keys" for each radio.....PRICING???!!! Retail for the new KNG2CMD is $2,995.00 and other pricing (which I can't say on this site) is much lower. Motorola, sorry the model number is usually the price also. You have to have specific software and licenses and these are very expensive. So for wildland incidents, you have to have a Motorola specialist just to program them. Thus....BK is more prevalent with wildlland departments.
 

Onelick

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Mar 31, 2018
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100 yards west of the east branch of the Antietam
Just from a cloning standpoint, I have yet to see anything beat a King. On a large incident, there could possibly be over 500 radios. Then there's a change in a comm plan just about every day if the fire is moving pretty good. You have to reprogram every single radio every day, mobiles included. A DPH takes less than 5 seconds to clone, a KNG it seems like 5 min, but it's probably only 2 min. Then each radio can go clone another, then those radios can clone more. Since I'm not as familiar with Moto, can they be reprogrammed that fast? You could have all the radios on the fire reprogrammed in 30 min or less.
Rick, I've only worked with you once on the Modoc Complex I got there late and the fire was winding down, what's the most radios you've seen on an incident?

Onelick
 

Tech792

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Mar 25, 2003
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Central NJ
Plus the BK's are built like a brick s**t house....they take a beating. I've always had one in my arsenal over the years.
 
Joined
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From what I've seen, the BK's are much more modular which makes them field repairable. In comparision, Motorola radios aren't very field repairable (you can do a housing, display, keypad or something else simple, but other stuff requires depot level repairs).

I've been wanting to pickup up a used pair of their VHF HT's to play with and compare to my trusty ranch radios (XTS5000, XTS1500, XTS2500) which I simply acquired because I knew them from working on them.

Guerrillacomm on YouTube goes into to some pretty in-depth info on the BK portables.
 

mmckenna

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From what I've seen, the BK's are much more modular which makes them field repairable. In comparision, Motorola radios aren't very field repairable (you can do a housing, display, keypad or something else simple, but other stuff requires depot level repairs).
A retired friend of mine that is active with his local search and rescue got a bunch of old BK VHF portables from their local fire agency. He was able to get most of them working again by simply swapping out parts and a few minor repairs. Now his search and rescue group has a bunch of proper part 90 radios they can use.
he's also been able to put what he's learned into fixing radios for the fire department.
 

rsmith7799

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Joined
Sep 20, 2006
Messages
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Location
Arroyo Grande, CA
Just from a cloning standpoint, I have yet to see anything beat a King. On a large incident, there could possibly be over 500 radios. Then there's a change in a comm plan just about every day if the fire is moving pretty good. You have to reprogram every single radio every day, mobiles included. A DPH takes less than 5 seconds to clone, a KNG it seems like 5 min, but it's probably only 2 min. Then each radio can go clone another, then those radios can clone more. Since I'm not as familiar with Moto, can they be reprogrammed that fast? You could have all the radios on the fire reprogrammed in 30 min or less.
Rick, I've only worked with you once on the Modoc Complex I got there late and the fire was winding down, what's the most radios you've seen on an incident?

Onelick
These fires are getting larger and larger. The Thomas (Ventura Co.) Mendocino (MNF) the numbers are staggering...like in the thousands. If it is a CalFIRE incident, each firefighter has his or her own radio...so thousands.
 

rsmith7799

Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2006
Messages
12
Location
Arroyo Grande, CA
Just from a cloning standpoint, I have yet to see anything beat a King. On a large incident, there could possibly be over 500 radios. Then there's a change in a comm plan just about every day if the fire is moving pretty good. You have to reprogram every single radio every day, mobiles included. A DPH takes less than 5 seconds to clone, a KNG it seems like 5 min, but it's probably only 2 min. Then each radio can go clone another, then those radios can clone more. Since I'm not as familiar with Moto, can they be reprogrammed that fast? You could have all the radios on the fire reprogrammed in 30 min or less.
Rick, I've only worked with you once on the Modoc Complex I got there late and the fire was winding down, what's the most radios you've seen on an incident?

Onelick
The new programming software for the KNG's (RES) NEO is no longer, programs the radio in 3-4 seconds! A much improved update.
 

William2910

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Oct 6, 2018
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Land of entrapment
They also have 6 watt portable power on vhf, throw in a high gain antenna and it works. Kenwood also offers on the 5000s 6 watts. If you're curious the antennas they sell are EM wave for the relm bk p150 series for vhf. You can get them also for kenwood and Motorola but last I checked there was a week back order on them for motorola.
 

prcguy

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Jun 30, 2006
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So Cal - Richardson, TX - Tewksbury, MA
The BK programming software is out there for free and BK doesn't seem to care. Imagine all the freelance fire fighters out there that would have to buy Bloatorola software licenses and related stuff, then if they send their radio in for repair it might come back programmed with newer software preventing its owner from programming without buying new software again. Motorola has priced themselves out of nearly everything except large city and govt contracts.
 

rsmith7799

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Joined
Sep 20, 2006
Messages
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Location
Arroyo Grande, CA
The BK programming software is out there for free and BK doesn't seem to care. Imagine all the freelance fire fighters out there that would have to buy Bloatorola software licenses and related stuff, then if they send their radio in for repair it might come back programmed with newer software preventing its owner from programming without buying new software again. Motorola has priced themselves out of nearly everything except large city and govt contracts.
BK Technologies has tightened that part up. There was a way into their older website. But with the new build, they cut out all the "backdoor" activity that was going on. You must purchase the software now.
 
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