Provincial Fire and CFD

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rescue54

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During our 1200 class today, someone from foothills suggested that Calgary does not have the ability to patch into the alberta provincial fire channel that rural agencies can use for mutual aid. Can anyone confirm this or deny?
Thanks in advance.
 

harryshute

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I can't speak for Calgary but I find it would be very odd if this was the case. Looking at the database I see talk groups like rural areas, M.D. of Bighorn and Tssu Tina to the South. I'll let some of the Calgary experts answer in more detail but again I believe what that person told you is false. What they may be getting at is the different 800 band Calgary and Provincial Fire VHF are on so there is no direct connect via radio but all those talk groups simulcast what is on VHF on the Calgary 800 mhz system.

In Edmonton fire can patch to Provincial Fire 156.855 and Provincial Ambulance on 158.760 as well as choppers on the air band, Beaumont, West Edmonton Mall, U of A Campus Patrol, RCMP, Grant McEwan University and the Sheriffs at the Legislature.

I think with input from this list you will be able to back to class and let them know that communications are in better shape than they make it sound.

The new provincial system at 700 Mhz will be a step down from what's available now in the Edmonton Calgary areas. At least Saskatchewan went with a VHF provincial system but the government is having to pay for expensive radios for the EMS and fire departments as they are converted to the system.

The Edmonton additions were done in the last few years but I was of the impression that Calgary had made a much better effort at making their system a more regional one. Even when I first monitored Calgary in about 1997 I heard Okotoks fire on an analog talk group on the Calgary system.

Harry
 

rescue54

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well, I just can't be quoted as saying they are wrong. I have a hard time believing that calgary's digital system can't be patched (or visaversa) when they come out to Cochrane for grass fires or we have a huge MCI on the highway. Maybe someone can (short and to the point) lay down a basic description of how it works. I am guessing Calgary has a digital channel they go to that is automaticcally patched to the provincial fire MA channel. Jay? MikeO?
 

harryshute

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rescue 54 keep in mind that fire department activity on the Calgary system is mainly analog other than a few digital talk groups I see in the database. Cochrane should not be a problem as it's within the range of the Calgary system. Where they would be a problem if for some reason Calgary had to go to Lethbridge, as an example, and would not be on a compatable system. Calgary would be out of range of it's system for a patch.

In Lethbridge they are on an EDACS system while Calgary's is Motorola. AFAIK there is no common Simplex (car to car) 800 Mhz frequency common to both Lethbridge and Calgary. The same would be true if Calgary went to Red Deer who is on another 800 Mhz Motorola system. Very unlikely this would happen but I do remember Edmonton EMS getting ready to go to Red Deer for one of those multiple car accidents on Highway 2. In the end STARS went from both Calgary and Edmonton and Edmonton EMS stood down when the crash wasn't as bad as suspected.
 

Jay911

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I can't speak about Calgary itself because of terms of my employment, but I will say that dispatch centers can only patch channels if they have those channels at their centers. And for most dispatch centers, it's not as simple as dialing in a frequency in software and making the link - there is actual hardware that must be purchased, and someone has to pay for that hardware.

To my knowledge, CFD has no digital talkgroups - they're all analog. The guy who programs Redwood's radios once talked to me about testing some digital talkgroups, but I've never heard anything since.

Whether a system is analog or digital has nothing to do with its capabilities in this regard - just how it sounds, more or less.

I worked as a firefighter on the big grass fire that took out 320 acres along Highway 1 on April 1st. Crews from Redwood, Springbank, Cochrane, Balzac, and Calgary were there. We were using:

Redwood repeater 1 (Redwood Meadows crews)
Redwood repeater 2 (Redwood Meadows, Springbank crews)
Redwood tac 2 (UHF MUTUAL 2) (Redwood Meadows, Springbank crews)
Calgary Trunk C16 (Redwood Meadows, Springbank, Calgary, Balzac crews)
Calgary Trunk C6 (Redwood Meadows, Springbank, Calgary, Balzac crews)
Calgary Simplex B9 (Redwood Meadows, Springbank crews)
Cochrane Fire Repeater (Cochrane, Redwood Meadows, Springbank crews)
Cochrane Tac 5 (Cochrane, Redwood Meadows, Springbank crews)

The 700MHz system will get rid of all of that duplication and non-communicability (notice that there are some departments who were not on one system or another). All those opting in to the AFRRCS will be able to communicate with one another. We would only have had to use one dispatch channel and one fireground channel on that fire.

Having said that, this isn't the place for discussion about AFRRCS, despite the fact that some people want so badly to shoot it down. I'm not going to talk about it any further in this thread.

Provincial Firetac, 156.855, is used by many departments in the area as a fireground channel and/or interoperability channel - but only those who use VHF as their everyday comms. There are many departments in and around the area which use UHF as their main communications channels, and for them, Firetac isn't so useful. For those agencies, the province has the two "mutual" channels, 412.55 and 417.55.
 

robertmac

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Mutual aid

I must say after 20 years of listening to varioius Mutual Aid frequencies [156.855, 412.55, 417.55] in Southern Alberta I have never heard 2 different departments on these frequencies. Not saying it can't be done. Did hear some local activing [simplex] in Black Diamond on 156.855 during the floods a few years ago. Other than that [which wasn't a patch], not a peep out of mutual aid. Certainly, various departments can be "patched" into 158.76 or this can be used as a simplex when STARS is landing. As Jay911 states, a number of surrounding fire departments are now on the CFD frequencies. Haven't heard Strathmore Fire on these as they are now Mototrbo [or whatever it is called]. I did hear some links via computer [similar to IRLP] with departments along highway 23/24 south. Listen between 1800 and 1900 hours and you will hear these departments being brought up. I can't say if these links go any further. A number of EMS departments can talk to the RCMP directly on the PACS system. As well, Calgary Police Service can be "patched" in with RCMP around Calgary. This is a strange one as listening on a CPS freq. and RCMP freq. the audio comes first on the RCMP freq. followed by a second or 2 delay on CPS.
 

Jay911

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I did hear some links via computer [similar to IRLP] with departments along highway 23/24 south. Listen between 1800 and 1900 hours and you will hear these departments being brought up. I can't say if these links go any further.
From my listening experience I can tell you those are all dispatched by FRCC (Foothills 911). They first tested an IRLP-type setup to link Canmore to their center in Black Diamond several years ago. It seems to be in vogue for some of the southern departments as well these days. Probably cheaper than leased lines or microwave links, but I would be too worried about the uncertainties inherent in connecting via the internet myself (single point of failure, non-dedicated pathway, what happens if the net gets slow/goes down/etc).

A number of EMS departments can talk to the RCMP directly on the PACS system.
Many rural agencies of all stripes have letters of permission to utilize the local RCMP repeaters to talk to the local detachments. Redwood is one of them.

This is a strange one as listening on a CPS freq. and RCMP freq. the audio comes first on the RCMP freq. followed by a second or 2 delay on CPS.
This is due to the nature of digital radio and is present in any digital comms regardless of the brand/type .. it takes time to convert the analog signals into digital and then back at the opposite end.
 

yyc_tbird_sc

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yes, they do. Consequently if needed, ARES can also go out and patch almost any radio system to another using the hardware installed in the units we have.
 

robertmac

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Ares

Gee, I didn't know ARES was still active in Calgary. Haven't heard them on the Amateur Bands since the floods a number of years ago. Or are they operating as non hams these days?
 

yyc_tbird_sc

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Still alive and kicking. Although with some of the new policies with CFD and their more proactive techniques, we haven't been called out to much lately (there has also been some other issues hampering this which I won't get into).

We do have commercial radios that we use, and are licensed for in case we have non-hams needing the use of radios, but we also have many ham rigs and can link them all together if needed. We just had a meeting, but if you're interested, you're more than welcome to come out to the MATS center at the fire training center in the SE, the fourth tuesday each month at 1930.

We'll be at the Disaster Alley event next weekend at the MATS center. 10am-4pm.
 

beeperboy

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I hope you ARES guys are careful when you're "patching" things together?

One wrong move, and you can cripple a whole network.

BB
 

SCPD

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The new provincial system at 700 Mhz will be a step down from what's available now in the Edmonton Calgary areas. At least Saskatchewan went with a VHF provincial system ...
Harry
The new provincial system isn't even built yet and I think that we will find that it will be a big mess from the beginning. They will need 4X as many repeater sites as with a VHF system. 700 MHz is far from ideal for a province wide system.
 

rescue54

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Wow, thanks for the info guys. I apologize I had no idea these posts were here as I no longer get the emails for some reason.

Thanks again
 
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