Shelton FD radios

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CT22

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There are PLENTY of towns in CT that are still on low band only. Shelton just happens to be one of the busier ones.
 

cg

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Entire radio systems don't die overnight. I would suspect that they have long range planning issues.

chris
 

ecps92

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Those that Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail :wink:

Only now just getting around to applying for grants that have been around for 10 years?

Entire radio systems don't die overnight. I would suspect that they have long range planning issues.

chris
 

izzyj4

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Shelton has had some serious radio problems over the past several years. Technically the system should have been replaced within the past 10 years. Just last week the entire system (dispatch, both towers and voter receivers to dispatch) crapped out. Shelton PD, who dispatches the fire department, lost all communications and couldn't hear the units in the field. The base was down for hours. As for applying for grants, they have been trying to get the city to back them in getting the necessary funding (both outright and with grants) over the past few years if I am not mistaking.

SFD operates on 33.86 (primary) and 33.88 (fire ground). Dispatch is transmitted over two separate towers one located on Constitution Blvd and the other at the White Hill firehouse. The dispatch is transmitted on one tower followed by a re-transmit of the alarm on the other tower for the purpose of covering the area. Both towers do not effectively cover the entire town by itself that is why the dispatch is transmitted over the other tower. I know there are remote receivers hooked up to a voter but that only goes back to PD dispatch.

Each firehouse has their own dispatch room with a radio and an antenna (White Hills being tied into the main tower there). Each truck also operates a 33MHz radio and there is a UHF cross-band repeater for portables to the 33MHz system. I take it from people who I know in Shelton and also from the local forums speaking about the problem that the system in general has been piece-mailed over the years just to get by, at least that is how I have interpreted it. Most of the FDs and EMS agencies in the area operate on the UHF bands, and since Shelton FD is already licensed for UHF communications (fairly recently approved) they want to build something that will cover the city properly and in case of failure, a back up be provided.

But the fire department is not the only one that has had problems over the years. The police department operates on 800MHz, just went through the re-banding and still have major coverage issues in the city. This has been put on the back burner by the politicians as well. EMS has lucked out as they upgraded their system a few years ago (with in 5 I say) to a UHF repeated system for their primary ops along with tactical channels. The switch to UHF for them also made it easier for their C-MED communications statewide instead of having two separate radio systems (they also at one time operated on the 33MHz band).

I don't live in the town but I know a few people here work and / or live in Shelton and know more than I do.

Firebuff 66, are you still active with Shelton? If so you have any other insight on this or can you correct me where I may be wrong with my explanation?
 

Firebuff66

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Each firehouse has their own dispatch room with a radio and an antenna (White Hills being tied into the main tower there). Each truck also operates a 33MHz radio and there is a UHF cross-band repeater for portables to the 33MHz system. I take it from people who I know in Shelton and also from the local forums speaking about the problem that the system in general has been piece-mailed over the years just to get by, at least that is how I have interpreted it. Most of the FDs and EMS agencies in the area operate on the UHF bands, and since Shelton FD is already licensed for UHF communications (fairly recently approved) they want to build something that will cover the city properly and in case of failure, a back up be provided.

But the fire department is not the only one that has had problems over the years. The police department operates on 800MHz, just went through the re-banding and still have major coverage issues in the city. This has been put on the back burner by the politicians as well. EMS has lucked out as they upgraded their system a few years ago (with in 5 I say) to a UHF repeated system for their primary ops along with tactical channels. The switch to UHF for them also made it easier for their C-MED communications statewide instead of having two separate radio systems (they also at one time operated on the 33MHz band).

I don't live in the town but I know a few people here work and / or live in Shelton and know more than I do.

Firebuff 66, are you still active with Shelton? If so you have any other insight on this or can you correct me where I may be wrong with my explanation?
Im still active after 25 years :)
You got it right for the most part joe, PD did upgrade to a 2 site simulcast a few years ago that has helped them.
I can't say to much as I work for the radio vendor that they use.
As a person that has elderly parents living in Shelton I would like to see all the public safety services have good radio systems, Im sure if put to a vote the residents would feel the same.

Politics and public safety are always intertwined but make horrible bed fellows.
 

joetnymedic

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jon,
i know its not you so dont take it that this statement is aimed at you, but something has to be done with that radio system before somebody winds up boxing. what the hell is wrong with the mayor and the council? Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't some rocket scientist come up with the idea of buying a used antenna a year or two ago to try and solve the issues with the police radios? That is absolutely crazy. And I obviouslt know how radio works and that it's not perfect, but when I am in west haven, miles away and I can hear both dispatch and the cars unable to hear each other, yet I can hear them both 5X5 here, then that's a problem and I'm sorry but other than keeping the residents safe and sound, the mayors next priority should be keeping those in public safety safe. Just my opinion but that's just how I feel and I really don't want to see a firefighter or cop funeral because a town is too cheap to replace old radio gear. Correct me if I'm wrong, I mean I know the cops are obviously paid, but isn't sheltons fire department primarily volunteer? So you're already saving a ton of money because you don't have to pay for salaries so why not invest some cash in a decent radio system?
 

Firebuff66

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Joe

This issue with the FD has been going on for a long time. Low band itself is prone to noise and portables on low band have very short range. Another issue is phone lines. All the equipment relies on phone lines.
As for the PD they did have an issue with an antenna at one time, they used the grant money they got and upgraded their entire system to a multi site Simulcast system with all new equipment.
We have PD radios in our ambulances and have no issue now hearing them. The city does have some dead/week spots as do most cities and towns.
Shelton FD is volunteer and they have one the higest call volumes in the valley.
Safety should be paramount in any public safety organization and all parties need to work to that end.
 

radioman2001

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I can't imagine any piece of radio equipment that's only 20 years old failing 50% of the time. My VFD has Maxtrac's and Radius mobiles of that age and we have only had 1 or 2 failures in the past 5 years, usually due to excessive voltage, or damaged wiring due to water or other repairs being made to the trucks. We recently replaced all the Maxtrac's and Radius radios for under $25K, (that was 40 CDM-1550 ls+ truck radios installed) where does 2.1 million come in.
Portables I can see being replaced every 5 years since they take such a beating,and are they looking to go on some P-25 trunking system? Does anybody know what Shelton is using for equipment, or this another pig in a poke attempt to get Fed monies. I can see that they want to have a reliable system, but do they need to upgrade or do they really need to just to replace the equipment with same, as our department did, rather than P-25 which is no good for Fire Service anyway. If it ain't broke don't fix it, meaning the system, not the radios.
 

KB1JHU

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They're not just talking about replacing portables and mobiles. The ENTIRE system is old and needs to be replaced. That means new repeaters and base stations and all the other stuff (antennas, feed line, etc) and possibly new links to dispatch (phone lines or RF). They already have the license secured to utilize a UHF repeater system and get away from the low band garbage with UHF crossband vehicle repeaters.
 

N1BHH

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When using the term failure, it can mean a wide variety of situations when it comes to fire communications. Failure is the general term people use that could be, someone doubling with another, dropping out of a receiver or repeater, only hearing a few words due to multi path or feedback. These are all valid reasons to look for a solution. If radios are 20 years old they can't be updated too easily to current standards, they all need replacement.

Those who have few problems with the older radios probably are the lucky ones who have a radio shop that keeps up on the issues and gets them resolved. Others may have to wait as much as a couple weeks or even longer before a problem can be resolved.

A firefighter who can't talk with his command officer outside a building only 50 feet away reliably is a problem. Reliability of a radio is paramount on the fire scene.
 

902

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Joe and Jon,

I first read this article from a land mobile radio list. I didn't get a whole lot of technical information from the article aside from having an obvious problem, then I checked the database and ULS and saw it was lowband on one of the frequencies we used up to the late 70s (33.86... we used to always hear "Rowayton Base"). Thank you for filling in much of the background I was wondering about.

I saw the MO3 (mobile repeater/ "extender") units on the license. Can you please elaborate on how fireground communications is handled? Does Shelton use UHF handhelds for FG? If so, do they go through the extenders to a common low band channel, or are some portable radios low band and some UHF?

Can you please say what kinds of mobiles and portables are used? Were low band portables used in the high school incident?

Was the source of voting failure ever identified? A telephone line or comparator issue? Usable sensitivity issue? A co-channel user (several NJ departments seem to have "hard-patched" their UHF operations to 33.86).

Is alerting pager coverage part of the issue?

Sorry for all these questions, but these could be leads toward some easy fixes... radios can't get replaced overnight and there seems to be a need for immediacy.

As for migrating everything up to UHF, clear channels in southwestern CT are next to impossible without a shoehorn.
 

izzyj4

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Joe and Jon,

I first read this article from a land mobile radio list. I didn't get a whole lot of technical information from the article aside from having an obvious problem, then I checked the database and ULS and saw it was lowband on one of the frequencies we used up to the late 70s (33.86... we used to always hear "Rowayton Base"). Thank you for filling in much of the background I was wondering about.
Shelton operates on a simplex (non-repeater) low band two-way radio system. Their PPL is different from the CSQ for the county side of the frequency which I beleive Rowayton still operates on and NEwtown does the roll call (not even sure if that is done any more.

I saw the MO3 (mobile repeater/ "extender") units on the license. Can you please elaborate on how fireground communications is handled? Does Shelton use UHF handhelds for FG? If so, do they go through the extenders to a common low band channel, or are some portable radios low band and some UHF?
The UHF portables are used for the fire ground and the Moto CMD radios (33.86) are hooked up to a Pyramid X-band UHF repeater. Thus one of the problems. Also on the KCE518 license, you will see the UHF frequencies they applied for, co-ordinated and want to use for the new system by what has been discussed by members of the local CT forum. They had most of the UHF frequencies and for the portables, now they would like to go to a UHF repeated system to cover the city. Also practically every town they do mutual aid with has UHF systems or have UHF radios in their rigs if they work on another system. The problem they are getting with the X-Band is that the re-transmit of the 33.86 traffic back over to UHF is not coming through.

Can you please say what kinds of mobiles and portables are used? Were low band portables used in the high school incident?
Like I stated above they have Motorola CMD low band radios, I am not sure which model. As for the UHF portables I do not know what brand they are, also I do not know what was being used at the school. I'm assuming it the current set up as this has been an ongoing issue for a few years now.

Was the source of voting failure ever identified? A telephone line or comparator issue? Usable sensitivity issue? A co-channel user (several NJ departments seem to have "hard-patched" their UHF operations to 33.86).
The voting is for the receiving at the dispatch, it is not base repeater system. 33.86 is simplex and set up like all old VHF Lo-Band systems. As for why it failed and dispatch was in the dark, I do not know.

Is alerting pager coverage part of the issue?
Yes, all traffic and paging is over 33.86. To get the proper coverage of a dispatch (at least 95% of the city) they dispatch over one tower and then dispatch again over the second "backup" tower so that all the companies can hear the dispatch. When on the White Hills tower, no one in Pine Rock (southern end down by Sikorsky and the Stratford line) and vice versa with the tower located off of Constitution Blvd.

Sorry for all these questions, but these could be leads toward some easy fixes... radios can't get replaced overnight and there seems to be a need for immediacy.

As for migrating everything up to UHF, clear channels in southwestern CT are next to impossible without a shoehorn.
No problem. The problem is that the equipment is very old, has been piece-mailed over the years and should have been replaced 10 years ago with a better system. Granted I don't live in the town but my FD does do mutual aid with Shelton from time to time and we have a great re-pore with them. I just hope they get what is needed and no one gets hurt between now and then.
 

902

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Izzy, I checked out that Youtube clip. That's horrible. I can't even guess what's causing that. Was that attempting to hear portable radio traffic, or was that the mobile attempting to receive another mobile (or does everything sound like that)? It almost sounds like microprocessor noise. Modern apparatus are loaded with them, some even do wi-fi diagnostics back to the factory.

Understood on dispatch getting the voted audio. If it doesn't make it out to you in the field, it's only good to the dispatcher. I have strong opinions on response traffic; I believe it should be repeated so all units could hear inbound instructions (and that fireground should be simplex so the units could hear each other without having to go through infrastructure). We gave up low band when high rise buildings went up in town. We could not communicate from inside to outside. It seems that the steel, rebar, and other materials detuned the already inefficient antennas, the radios had an inadequate ground plane already, and there were a bunch of other problems (these were HT200 vintage portables and old lunchbox radios). We went to VHF for a number of years and ultimately went to UHF because VHF got too crowded for reliable simplex, even in a small town.

Having a mixture of low band and UHF portables... ouch. Just my opinion. If everyone were all UHF working through a mobile to get out to low band, or all low band (and equally straining to hear traffic, but would probably hear someone in the next room) that would be somewhat better.

Anyway, Shelton has WQNE393 with 2 repeaters, 150 mobiles (with apparently 2 talkaround channels) and 7 control stations. This should bring the department up to par with the other agencies in the area and I hope give them the tools they need. Seems like a solid plan. I knew there had to be more to the story than what was in the paper :D

Knowing what I know now hope their grant goes through quickly.
 

izzyj4

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902 that is the UHF system they want on WQNE393. The 453.4375 is the frequency used currently for the x-band (and was on KCE518 I believe). My bad on which license it was on, this is for the new system they would like to get, forgot they applied for a new license.
 
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