BCD436HP: Fire tone A always the same

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SK63

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I am trying to get the Fire Tones for the station near me but while in search mode, I noticed all of the dispatched calls are showing Tone A 617.0...Tone B will change depending on the station. Why is this and how should I program my station tone which seems to be 927.9? I think they are on QC II. If I program Tone A 617.0 and Tone B 927.9, I still get all of the dispatched calls, not just Station 5.
 

Eng74

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Once you program the tones you need to go to tone out standby. Then when the station is toned out it will open the radio then.
 

SK63

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Once you program the tones you need to go to tone out standby. Then when the station is toned out it will open the radio then.
Yes, that's the way I'm set up but it's not working, still hearing all dispatch
 

ko6jw_2

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In answer to your first question about why Tone A is the same, our county fire department uses GE paging tones and each group of stations has the same first tone. Example: Stations 30,31,32 all have 802.5 as Tone A. This equates to a "3". A "1" would equate to 592.5 etc. However, there are other paging tones that are sent that are alerting tones for a battalion chief. These would be sent for any of the stations under that chief's command. Possibly you have a chief's call instead of the individual station. This could account for hearing multiple calls.

The other point is that I have used third party software to decode tones, but found that they were not entirely accurate. I only got things working reliably when I equated my readings to the table of GE paging tones and programmed the exact tone frequencies.
 

SK63

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In answer to your first question about why Tone A is the same, our county fire department uses GE paging tones and each group of stations has the same first tone. Example: Stations 30,31,32 all have 802.5 as Tone A. This equates to a "3". A "1" would equate to 592.5 etc. However, there are other paging tones that are sent that are alerting tones for a battalion chief. These would be sent for any of the stations under that chief's command. Possibly you have a chief's call instead of the individual station. This could account for hearing multiple calls.

The other point is that I have used third party software to decode tones, but found that they were not entirely accurate. I only got things working reliably when I equated my readings to the table of GE paging tones and programmed the exact tone frequencies.
Good info, thanks. I did look up and input the exact QC frequencies and it did not resolve the problem. I'm going to have to get one of the tone analyzer programs and figure out the correct set to enter as obviously, the tones the radio are displaying are not doing what I want them to do.
 

ko6jw_2

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Your problem is quite curious. Normally one would expect that if you had the wrong tones, nothing would happen. I found that my 396T was slightly tolerant of inexact frequencies. For example, it would probably work with 800-805 for tone A. I just wanted to use the exact frequencies and as a former reserve in that department, I knew what type of alerting tones they used. However, it is more probable that you would hear nothing if you were off frequency. I wonder if the department you're interested in uses some sort of pre-alert tones that contain the frequencies that open your receiver.

Many years ago the State of California had a statewide fire repeater system system with a 33Mhz input and a 154Mhz output. There was a small volunteer fire department in the mid-west that operated on the input frequency. When they had an alarm they broadcast a siren type alert that swept through the frequencies needed to open the California system. I'm just wondering if that's is your problem.

On Uniden scanners the alerting tones will not be heard, just whatever alert signal you chose when you programed the tone-out. If you are hearing the actual tones then the radio is already open and something else is triggering it. Of course, after the radio is triggered, you will hear all traffic, including other alert tones, on the channel. I set a one minute timer so that if I'm not interested the radio is quiet again.
 

ofd8001

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I wouldn't get too concerned about Tone A showing up as the same for all fire stations.

Around our part of the world, there are 17 fire departments on our dispatch system. Each department uses the same first tone (Tone A) - 17 different Tone As in other words. The second tone (Tone B) is unique to a station. If it is a medical call Tone B is different than the Tone B for a fire call.

If you want to get "All" of the fire calls, then you'll have to program "All" of the tone groups. If you program only station 5's tones, you'll hear only station 5's calls.

Looking at the standard Quick Call II charts, I'm guessing for station 5, those tones are 617.4/928.1

You could stop by your local fire department and ask if they will tell you which tone groups are used for what station. However, it is possible they may be reluctant to release this information. A good deal of mischief can be made with someone having malice in their hearts and the right radio equipment in their hands.
 

SK63

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Your problem is quite curious. Normally one would expect that if you had the wrong tones, nothing would happen. I found that my 396T was slightly tolerant of inexact frequencies. For example, it would probably work with 800-805 for tone A. I just wanted to use the exact frequencies and as a former reserve in that department, I knew what type of alerting tones they used. However, it is more probable that you would hear nothing if you were off frequency. I wonder if the department you're interested in uses some sort of pre-alert tones that contain the frequencies that open your receiver.

Many years ago the State of California had a statewide fire repeater system system with a 33Mhz input and a 154Mhz output. There was a small volunteer fire department in the mid-west that operated on the input frequency. When they had an alarm they broadcast a siren type alert that swept through the frequencies needed to open the California system. I'm just wondering if that's is your problem.

On Uniden scanners the alerting tones will not be heard, just whatever alert signal you chose when you programed the tone-out. If you are hearing the actual tones then the radio is already open and something else is triggering it. Of course, after the radio is triggered, you will hear all traffic, including other alert tones, on the channel. I set a one minute timer so that if I'm not interested the radio is quiet again.
I'm thinking it's something like this too. I need to get the tone software so I can look at the entire set sent, I'm sure it would become more clear as to what's happening. I do hear one set of tones after the radio is opened up.
 

ofd8001

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It's possible that you hearing tones for multiple stations after your scanner has opened from the first tone.

For example, a fire department has four stations dispatched to a house fire. So that could mean four tone groups are sent out. If my scanner opens up on the first set of tones, I'll hear the remaining three tone groups before the dispatcher gets to the nature and location component of the dispatch.
 

SK63

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I downloaded the Comtekk software and got the problem settled (unless they have different tones for different incidents). They are sending two sets of tones, not sure what the first one is used for but it will open the radio on all dispatched calls as its always the same tone pairing. A second set sent is station specific.
 
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ofd8001

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I downloaded the Comtekk software and got the problem settled (unless they have different tones for different incidents). They are sending two sets of tones, not sure what the first one is used for but it will open the radio on all dispatched calls as its always the same tone pairing. A second set sent is station specific.
It's probably due to the operational nature of the fire department. Just like there are several ways of skinning cats, some departments do things one way and other departments are different.

My fire department used a chief officer tone group on fire calls. The applicable station(s) tones went out, then the chief officer tone. Thus a car fire in station one's area was: Station One Tones, Chief Officer Tones.

Probably way more information than what you are interested in, but here goes. Many fire pagers have a Stored Voice function. You press a button and the pager plays back the last 32 seconds of the broadcast. That way you could get the address repeated if needed. We had the chief officer tones go out last so we didn't have to listen to as much as 15 seconds worth of tones before we heard the addressed being played back.
 

ko6jw_2

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Congratulations. It takes some detective work to get these things figured out. They are very unlikely to have different tones for different types of incidents. They could have different tones for different apparatus. An engine company might have a separate tone from a truck company in the same station, but usually not in smaller departments. It is also possible to have an "all call" or "group call" set up for large incidents. My local department doesn't do that, but should. A large incident can take 20-40 seconds to tone out all units. Waste of time. Large departments like Los Angeles City don't use tone calls - it takes too much time with their volume of calls and, instead, use digital signaling.
 

wa8pyr

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I am trying to get the Fire Tones for the station near me but while in search mode, I noticed all of the dispatched calls are showing Tone A 617.0...Tone B will change depending on the station. Why is this and how should I program my station tone which seems to be 927.9? I think they are on QC II. If I program Tone A 617.0 and Tone B 927.9, I still get all of the dispatched calls, not just Station 5.
The most likely reason behind the common first tone is for group alerts. Each A/B combination would alert a specific station or department, while a single A tone (usually at least 3 to 8 seconds in duration) would open all pagers sharing the same A tone.

If your scanner allows it, try setting the tone durations to A = 1 second and B = 3 seconds and see if that works.

Congratulations. It takes some detective work to get these things figured out. They are very unlikely to have different tones for different types of incidents. They could have different tones for different apparatus. An engine company might have a separate tone from a truck company in the same station, but usually not in smaller departments. It is also possible to have an "all call" or "group call" set up for large incidents. My local department doesn't do that, but should. A large incident can take 20-40 seconds to tone out all units. Waste of time. Large departments like Los Angeles City don't use tone calls - it takes too much time with their volume of calls and, instead, use digital signaling.
Actually, in many areas, volunteer departments had separate tone pairs for fire runs and EMS runs. Where there were different volunteer pools, one set of tones for fire runs and another for EMS allows/allowed separate alerting.

In some areas at least, there seems to be a trend toward eliminating all but a single set of tones.
 
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SK63

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Thanks for the info, I'm very interested in this stuff but I'm not the brightest star in the sky so it often takes a while for me to figure it out plus I'm getting old, that always makes for a good excuse.
 

ofd8001

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As I noted above, different areas do things differently. Around our community, we have a fire tone and an EMS tone for each station. (On the fire tones, Tone B is lower in frequency than Tone A - on EMS tones, Tone B is higher than Tone A. That way if you are listening to an open channel you'll know whether a fire or EMS call is going out).

The main purpose in two different tones is this. On EMS calls, only the on-duty crew is to respond. There is no reason to wake up the volunteers and off duty career folks at 3 AM about an incident to which they won't respond.

We do have an All Call tone that alerts the 600 plus firefighters in our county. That's used most often to let us know of severe weather impacting the area. Before, we set off all tones. There are some 30+ tones and at 4 seconds per tone group, that took a couple of minutes. Most pagers re-set themselves after a period of time. We were having problems with firefighters hearing weather alerts because their pagers re-set before the alerting process was finished.

Our county also has a couple of specialized operations teams. Haz Mat, Water Rescue, Confined Space and Trench Rescue. This All Call tone is used to alert them to a call.

The All Call tone is a long single tone.

We also have an "All Chiefs" tone. That way if there is a need to alert all chief officers about some important administrative information, we don't have to go through all the tone groups.
 
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