Tempe Fire & Police question

cfsimmont

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Phoenix Fire has Rescue units, which are staffed with FF/Paramedics. But cities like Chandler and Tempe, then, are staffed with civillian employees (according to what I read on Tempe's site, anyway).

By the way, to avoid writing an extra post, does anyone know the reasoning beyond Phoenix Dispatch's decision to encrypt the fire A Patches, but not Mesa to encrypt their B Patches? I mean, it would make life a ton easier as currently, I go to the bedroom (my BC340CRS), to listen to fires because its telescoping antenna seems to allow me to catch distant signals better than the rubber on the handheld.

All I'm saying is there's no rhyme or reason fo Phoenix to encrypt their A patches if Mesa isn't.
You are asking a question that most of us have been scratching our heads over for a long time. The VHF frequencies for A-Deck are not encrypted but the patches to the digital system are, go figure. My only thinking as to why this would be done, that they don't want fireground traffic to be heard widespread throughout the valley like the K-Deck? Although with the VHF channels I can still pickup a few of them out here in Pinal County. I am just grateful that more of the system isn't encrypted.
 

scannerizer

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You are asking a question that most of us have been scratching our heads over for a long time. The VHF frequencies for A-Deck are not encrypted but the patches to the digital system are, go figure. My only thinking as to why this would be done, that they don't want fireground traffic to be heard widespread throughout the valley like the K-Deck? Although with the VHF channels I can still pickup a few of them out here in Pinal County. I am just grateful that more of the system isn't encrypted.
Right. But why doesn’t Mesa do the same? Smaller area? It’s just a P.I.T.A. that they’re simplex so you can’t hear them from afar. Besides,wasn’t the benefit of the RWC the fact that apparatus from the east side of town could respond to an incident on the west side of town and hear info before they get to the neighborhood?

I do have the As loaded into my portable unit, but the rubber antenna makes monitoring impossible. If only theyknew the heartache us enthusiasts feel…

Also, I predominantly prefer K1 over A1, but I’ve recently noticed that some calls are repeated twice. Something to do with a patch?
 

waynedc

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Besides,wasn’t the benefit of the RWC the fact that apparatus from the east side of town could respond to an incident on the west side of town and hear info before they get to the neighborhood?
scannerizer,

I think you are getting tunnel-visioned into thinking that authorized responding fire dept users can not monitor the encrypted patched channels. They are encrypted because they do not want you to listen to them.

PFD chooses to use VHF analog simplex on some incidents for safety reasons and they know if you are in the area you can monitor. It is a benefit vs risk they are okay taking on those calls.

There is nothing more to it than that...

Wayne
 

GlobalNorth

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All italicized words are quoted from the Phoenix Fire Directory - Operations.

Phoenix Regional Radio Network


The Phoenix Regional Radio Network (PRRN) utilizes several voice radio communications systems. These include the "A" Deck channels which are VHF Conventional Simplex and used for all Hazard Zone Incidents. The Hazard Zone is defined as any incident which may require a firefighter to utilize a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
The "K" Deck Talk Groups which are in the Regional Wireless Cooperative (RWC) are on a 700/800mhz trunked radio network. This system is used for non hazard zone incidents, such as Emergency Medical Service (EMS) incidents.
This web page is designed to give you up-to-date information on a variety of topics to help you understand the 800MHz radio. Any question or concerns you have should be directed to any member of the Phoenix Regional Network Team at Fire Technical Services.

  • Technical Services Main Line - 602-256-3394
  • Division Chief Doug Mummert - 602-534-5358
  • Captain John Dean - 602-277-1500
800 MHz Survival
Things you need to know about the Phoenix Regional Radio Network 800 MHz portable radios:

  • Use simplex VHF radios in the Hazard Zone.
  • Use the trunked 800MHz radios for all Non-Hazard Zone incidents (EMS calls).
    The Motorola XTS trunked 800MHz radio has a yellow antenna.
  • The Motorola XTS VHF radio has a black antenna.
  • The Motorola APX XE Dual Band radio has a black antenna and a green impact housing.
  • Dispatches will direct you to the correct talk group/channel.
  • The Mobile Computer Terminal (MCT) and station printout will signify what talk group/channel you to operate on.
  • Companies will need to manage two kinds of radios (VHF and 800MHz) until we are able to complete our Dual Band portable transition.
You have support to assist you with questions/problems. Please call (602) 262-1830 for help.

Why did we change?

In a sentence - There are a limited number of radio frequencies available with our current VHF radio system. Imagine a line that stretches from 1 to 1,000, each number along the line represents a radio frequency - there are only so many available. This span of frequencies is called "spectrum." The FCC controls spectrum and public safety agencies face tremendous competition from wireless service providers (e.g., pagers, cell phones, television, etc.) for spectrum (frequencies).
Several frequencies of spectrum that lie close together in spectrum are called "bands." Historically, the FCC distributed these bands as technology made them available. This practice resulted in consumers being spread throughout spectrum. Currently, public safety communications cover more than 10 different bands. This is a problem because there isn't a commercially available radio that can cover several bands, much less 10 bands. Basically, one radio can't communicate with all public safety communities - you would have to carry 10 separate radios to communicate with all of them.
We know that big emergencies require big support and coordination. Fire, Police, Emergency Medical Services, automatic aid, mutual aid, other city & state agencies, etc. need to communicate with each other to solve problems and ensure the safety of personnel. Simply put, we require the ability of two different agencies to communicate with each other, on demand, and in real time. Chief Khan would say that Mrs. Smith has an expectation from the Phoenix Fire Department, it doesn't matter where she's at or what type of services she needs, that firefighters will show up and they'll be able to coordinate their efforts and talk to each other to solve her problem.
So, why the 800 MHz band? The 800 MHz band of contains enough spectrum (close to 150 frequencies) for the entire valley to operate on a single radio system. If the entire City of Phoenix, and all of the regional fire departments we dispatch for are on one system, then we can talk to each other by utilizing a single portable radio.



P.S. As to why the patches are the way they are, even Fire personnel are not of one mind / opinion. They defer to the radio techs and the way the RWS system is mapped.
 

DanRollman

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P.S. As to why the patches are the way they are, even Fire personnel are not of one mind / opinion. They defer to the radio techs and the way the RWS system is mapped.
Can there be any explanation for why (i) VHF simplex firegrounds (which would require a receiver to be close) are unencrypted, (ii) 800 MHz trunked EMS talkgroups (which you can hear well from anywhere but don't carry hazard traffic) are unencrypted, but (iii) 800 MHz trunked fireground patches (which can be heard by official system users from anywhere but do carry hazard traffic) are encrypted, OTHER THAN the desire to not have live fireground traffic on internet feeds? In other words, isn't this as simple as having distant official department resources be able to hear the incident on their encryption-capable radio while "Bret Tarver's wife would not have heard it all on her smartphone"? Sorry to be so blunt, but isn't it that simple? And why isn't Mesa's fireground encrypted? Because the audio I heard when Bret Tarver died didn't happen on a Mesa channel. Anyone in any official capacity who has heard that recording and considered the possibility that if it happened today, it could have been broadcast live around the world and been recorded by everyone absent encryption, would think about this. For that matter, Scott Bowerbank's wife may have been watching 3TV when he said "Oh Jesus!" live on air a split second before he died, but broadcast TV isn't so easy to encrypt. Is it really more complicated than that?
 

GlobalNorth

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I don't have a definitive answer to why RWC does what it does, nor what the managers of the Topaz system do what they do in the examples you pose. I posted what Phoenix FD's policy is and one can surmise an answer from there. Government policies should be rational, yet they often aren't.

Bob Khan let the policy stand and so has Kara Kalkbrenner. We'll see what the next chief may or may not allow. Much depends on what Big-M can sell RWC, within the limits of their existing system.
 

Astrak

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Only battalion chiefs and up have access to the encrypted A deck channels. Alarm or whoever made the decision doesn't want units not responding to the call monitoring the fireground channel potentially missing calls that are directed towards them. Mesa doesn't encrypt their fireground because chiefs and up are using Unication pagers to monitor, while unication supports AES256 they don't meet the requirements for keeping the key protected.
 

scannerizer

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I don't have a definitive answer to why RWC does what it does, nor what the managers of the Topaz system do what they do in the examples you pose. I posted what Phoenix FD's policy is and one can surmise an answer from there. Government policies should be rational, yet they often aren't.

Bob Khan let the policy stand and so has Kara Kalkbrenner. We'll see what the next chief may or may not allow. Much depends on what Big-M can sell RWC, within the limits of their existing system.
And if you look on there, there's an FAQ section where they go in detail and say that once the system is proven realiable there'll be a plan to move all comms to the RWC. That's ten years old and it should've been updated if it wasn't going to happen.

Besides, I'm sure that by now they've got APXs i ntheir arsenal, yet if you under Radio Operations, they're showing the XTS.
 

n0doz

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Don't overthink this. The answer is simply that the people running Mesa's system want theirs that way, as do the folks running RWC. At their level, they're as much political as they are technical, and maybe more so. As long as their respective setups don't endanger public-safety personnel, then that is good enough. And really, having been up to my neck in negotiations with department radio system management a few times, "good enough" is about the best we can hope for!
 
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