2012 VHF Radio Template Changes Phase 2 of 2 for 2012 The “GREEN” Template & Narrow Banding
Maximizing this Class Narrow banding is more than just some changes to the radio frequencies. It WILL fundamentally change how we use our radios. Please take the time to work through the slides and practice using the radios during the 4 specified exercises. The exercises will give you a chance to practice using various radio configurations in different situations, both emergent and non-emergent. There is also a quiz at the conclusion of the class, intended to ensure everyone has gained the most important information. As we all know, nothing can be more frustrating on a call than a radio communication that cannot be understood. Taking some time today, could reduce a lot of frustration later. VHF CAG for Benton – Franklin Counties
Class Overview • “Going Green” • The Green Templates minor changes • RED Net Reminder • Mayday Refresher • Communicating with MedSTAR • Narrow Banding Basics • Radio exercises • Quiz
Goals of the GREENTemplate • Create a framework suitable for future configuration and expansion between multi-county emergency service areas • Create uniformity between agency radios, so that any member of any agency can pick up a radio and find the frequency needed. • Narrow banded VHF in accordance with FCC Regulations.
How did we get here? • A committee of SECOMM users and radio maintenance personnel from both Benton and Franklin agencies worked for months creating a radio template that met the needs of ALL agencies, and met the major goals of the local chiefs and SECOMM administrators.
A quick review of “yellow” changes… • Zones • Previously referred to as Groups/Banks • 8Zones designated by SECOMM Users Group • Urban Zone • Created for agencies working in center of Tri Cities where numerous calls for auto/mutual-aide occur daily. • See Radio Template for Details • Home Zones • Created for agencies outside of the Urban area, so commonly used frequencies can be input. • See Radio Template for Details
A quick review of “yellow” changes… • Geographical Frequencies • The necessity of using these frequencies has been identified with the potential merge of Benton & Franklin County agencies within the same communication system. • TAC Frequencies (Simplex Frequencies) • The use of TAC frequencies at the operational level of all multi-company operations, is critical to maximizing efficient communications. • TAC frequencies are “loosely” assigned to the adjacent geographical frequency.
RED NET • Red net remains the primary SAFETY channel for SECOMM & Franklin County users. • Most agencies have designated positions to monitor this frequency. • It remains the LAST in the channel order of all zones for ease of location for the firefighter in a Mayday Situation. (See Mayday Refresher in 2 slides)
RED NET RED NET SHOULD ALWAYS BE RESERVED FOR EMERGENCY TRAFFIC ONLY. IT SHALL NEVER BE USED FOR DAY TO DAY TRAFFIC. IT ALSO SHALL NOT BE USED BY MEDSTAR OR AGENCIES ASSISTING WITH LANDING AIRCRAFT. (More about this later.)
“Mayday” Refresher • When you or another firefighter with you is: • LOST • TRAPPED or • In TROUBLE • Call a “MAYDAY” • Use the LUNAR acronym to identify your current situation. Call the Mayday on your current frequency. If no response… Turn the channel selector all the way to the right. Call the Mayday again. If no response…. Turn the channel selector all the way to the left. Call the Mayday again.
295 MedSTAR • Channel 295 MedSTARis the companies own assigned frequency with Air – to – Ground capability. • This is the frequency that should be used by agencies communicating with MedSTAR during LZ operations. • Eg. “MedSTAR, this is Medic2-11 on 2-9-5”
Radio Functions • There are no changes to the functional abilities or buttons of the radios. • Scan feature select at “auto resume” • Home channel feature • Home channel at power “On” • Position of RED NET • Mic Gain Minimum • Push-2-talk beep • GPS Feature activated for radios with feature • Keypad “Lock” to avoid changes while firefighting • Minimum volume configured at 2. • RED Net Hard Scanned on all radios
NARROW-BANDING 101 What is it? Why are we changing to it? How does it impact my use of the radio?
Narrow-banding • What is it? • Narrow-banding is an effort to ensure more efficient use of the VHF and UHF spectrum by requiring all VHF and UHF Public Safety and Industrial/Business land mobile radio (LMR) systems to migrate to at least 12.5 kHz efficiency technology by January 1, 2013. The FCC is enforcing this requirement.
Narrow-banding • What is the purpose of Narrowbanding? • Currently, the majority of UHF and VHF LMR licensees operate using 25 kHz efficiency technology. However, the UHF and VHF frequency bands are congested with limited spectrum available for system expansion or implementation of new systems. The migration to 12.5 kHz efficiency technology will require licensees to operate more efficiently, either on narrower channel bandwidths or increased voice paths on existing channels. This will allow creation of additional channels within the same spectrum, thereby supporting more users.
Narrow-banding • Are paging-only channels exempt from Narrowbanding? • Yes, however, there are only 14 paging-only channels. • Note that Med Channels 163.250, 150.775 and 150.790 MHz are not exempt, as these channels are shared with Federal Government users who must Narrowband as part of the Federal Government Narrowbanding effort.
Narrow-banding • What happens if we don’t narrow-band our frequencies? • The FCC is monitoring all licensed users and will initiate fines up to $16,000 per Frequency per Day after January 1, 2013 if required frequencies are not narrow-banded accordingly.
Narrow-banding • Will I lose coverage area when I Narrowband? • It has been estimated that Narrowband compliance can result in a 3 dB loss in signal strength. However, this rule of thumb is based upon a "plain vanilla" Narrow-banding scenario where a 25 kHz analog system converts to a 12.5 kHz analog system. Consult with a manufacturer and/or consulting engineer for a better estimate of how Narrow-banding will affect your particular system. • The full impact of narrow-banding on Benton & Franklin County will not be known until it is done.
Impact of Narrow-Banding on Radio Functionality There is a clear and definite impact of using narrow banded frequencies. It will be vital that all users follow specific radio etiquette in order to maintain good communication.
Narrow-Banding Impacts on… Overall Communications • Generally speaking you should not notice a big difference. However, people who tend to talk quietly or do not project their voice will be more difficult to understand. • Everyone is encouraged to project, not yell, into the radio.
General Radio Communications • The biggest impact of narrow banding on the radio user, is the need to speak directly into the microphone. • The sensitivity of the radios, and the resulting transmission will require microphones to be much closer to the user. • Talk into, not at the radio.
EXERCISE #1 • The impact of narrow banding on daily radio use. • Materials Needed: • 2 VHF Radios with narrow banded frequencies • 2 or more participants • Standing outside (not inside), have a radio positioned on each side of a building. Use either geographical or TAC frequencies. • Perform 10 counts, (1, 2, 3, 4, … ) starting with the radio at arms length. Slowly bring the radio in towards your mouth, until the radio or mic is approximately 2 inches from your mouth. • Have each participant practice talking on the radio. Notice the difference in volume and communication clarity. • Find the distance that provides the best communication.
Narrow-Banding Impacts on… Use of Directional Microphones • Lanyard mics, boom mics, table-top mics, and even portables will require the user to speak directly into the microphone for best signal transmission.
Using Directional Microphones • Even with SCBA Voice Boxes, the sensitivity of the radio & the transmission, will be more likely to pick up background noise, rather than intended voice transmissions unless you speak directly into the mic.
EXERCISE #2 • The impact of narrow banding on emergency radio use. • Materials Needed: • 2 VHF Radios with narrow banded frequencies • SCBA Mask &/or Voice Amplifier • 2 or more participants • Standing outside (not inside), have a radio positioned on each side of a building. Use either Geographical or TAC frequencies. • Perform 10 counts, (1, 2, 3, 4, … ) starting with the radio or boom mic with it positioned where you normally would. • Find the position that provides the best signal to the receiving radio. • Have each participant practice talking on the radio. Notice the difference in volume and communication clarity. • Find the distance and direction that provides the best communication. • Try using a radio in the radio pouch, without a lanyard mic.
Narrow-Banding Impacts on… Signal Penetration into Buildings • Many frequencies (specifically the geographical’s) mayNOT penetrate into buildings consistently. • Dense construction materials such as wood, steel, concrete, etc. will reduce signal strength. • Consider the cumulative effect of the number of floors and depth into a building working against the strength of the frequency.
Narrow Banded Frequency Penetration 101 Geographical & Command Frequencies will have penetration issues. SECOMM / Franklin Disp. Frequencies should be ok. TAC Frequencies will be best on scene.
Building Penetration • Narrow-banded signals DO NOT penetrate into buildings as consistently as before. • Because of this, personnel inside the building should either be on SECOMM or SOUTH DISP or be on a TAC Frequency. • If you believe you will be out of radio frequency range… • Post someone outside who can make contact with you via a TAC frequency, or • Notify the Communication Center, and request they notify you via phone if unable to contact via normal radio communications. (Obviously – not during emergency ops.)
EXERCISE #3 • The impact of narrow banding on building penetration. • Materials Needed: • 2 VHF Radios with narrow banded frequencies • 2 or more participants • Position a radio on the inside & another on the outside. (Ideally – use a concrete or metal constructed building.) • Using a TAC Frequency • Perform a 10 count from the inside radio to the radio outside, and then visa versa. • Using a Geographic Frequency • Perform a 10 count from the inside radio to the radio outside, and then visa versa. • Note the differences in signal strength and clarity.
SECOMM / NORTH DISPATCHCOMMAND 2 / SOUTH DISp.GEOGRAPHIC FrequenciesTAC Frequencies Frequency (CHANNEL) Intended Function
With 12 agency users and counting… It is critical that all members of all agencies practice radio discipline in order to free up radio air time for other necessary traffic. Radio discipline starts by ensuring you are transmitting on the correct frequency for the task at hand. Go en route on your assigned channel.
SECOMM & North Dispatch • The primary function of these frequencies are for: • Dispatching units • Communicating with units on single resource responses or typical EMS type responses. • The dispatcher shall advise units when to move to a COMMAND or Geographical Frequency. • Scene Commanders may also move units to a COMMAND, Geographical, or TAC frequency if scene communications dictate.
1 of 2COMMAND 2 & SOUTH Dispatch • The frequencies designated for Command level functions (at this time) are: • Command 2 • South Dispatch • This frequency should be used by all units to: • Advise dispatch “Enroute” to a scene (If not using an MDT) • Advise dispatch of “Arrived” status (If not using an MDT) • Advise dispatch of “Available” status (If not using an MDT) • Beyond simple status notifications, units should be directed by Command Staff to move to a Geographical &/or TAC frequency for on-scene radio traffic.
2 of 2COMMAND 2 & SOUTH Dispatch • Command Staff should use these frequencies for: • Communication with SECOMM or Franklin County Dispatch • Communication with other resources not assigned to the incident or who have not yet arrived at the incident • Communication with other command staff not assigned to the incident • i.e.: “Canyon Command” communicating with Chief 171
1 of 2 Geographic Frequencies • Geographical frequencies are designated by ESZ (Emergency Service Zone) that is best covered by the specific Geographical frequency. • These frequencies should be used by Command, Divisions, and Groups on the incident to accomplish communications at that level and/or with units working outside. • For Example: • “Division A” – “Canyon Command” on East IP • “Ventilation Group” – “Division B” on Badger • “Command” – “Staging Officer” on West IP
2 of 2 Geographic Frequencies • Geographicals will be of particular benefit on natural cover fires spanning large areas..
TAC Frequencies • TAC Frequencies are specifically for task oriented functions on any incident. • They should be relied upon solely for operations inside of a building. • Additionally TAC frequencies are for communicating with other resources in/and around the structure. • Division supervisors or Command (on smaller incidents) should be using TAC frequencies to communicate with units on the operational level.
Frequency by Incident Tasking & Size of Operation Incident Commander SECOMM / SOUTH No one position should have more than 2 radios or communicating on more than 2 frequencies. As the size and complexity of the incident increases, so shall the number & types of frequencies. TAC
Frequency by Incident Tasking & Size of Operation Monitors the Geo (if used) & RED NET. SECOMM / SOUTH SAFETY OFFICER Incident Commander GEOGRAPHICAL GEOGRAPHIC No one position should have more than 2 radios or communicating on more than 2 frequencies. Division B Division A TAC TAC
SECOMM / SOUTH GEO. Staging Officer Incident Commander GEOGRAPHICAL No one position should have more than 2 radios or communicating on more than 2 frequencies. Division A Division D TAC TAC
EXERCISE #4 (Slide 1 of 3) • Putting all frequencies into practice. • Materials Needed: • 4 + VHF Radios with narrow banded frequencies • 4 + participants • Identify the positions to be role-played: • Dispatcher (Will be on Command Freq. or South Dispatch) • Incident Commander (Command Freq. and Geographical) • Division Supervisor (Can have 2 or more in this role) – (Will be on Geographical and Tac Frequency) • Tactical Groups (Can have 2 or more in this role) - • Position the participants around the building. • You will be role playing a scenario from the point of going enroute.
EXERCISE #4 (Slide 2 of 3) Have the “Dispatcher” dispatch the appropriate units to a Residential Structure fire on a command frequency. (Advise your comm center that you are running a drill & the frequencies you will be using.) All units will go “enroute” on either Command 2 or South Dispatch, as appropriate for your agency. After the first unit arrives on scene, make appropriate changes to TAC frequencies for interior operations. As the scenario increases in size and complexity, add the geographic frequencies.
EXERCISE #4 (Slide 3 of 3) • Have interior crews, and division supervisors conduct numerous exchanges of information on assigned frequencies. • Consider using this radio traffic as an opportunity to practice the various benchmarks & other important transmissions for a structure fire:
Take this quiz with the other people in your group. Once you have decided on the correct answer, click the mouse ONCE to show the correct answer. Quiz Time
Which of the following frequencies will NOT have the best signal penetration into a concrete or steel building? (Select all that apply) • SECOMM • COMMAND 2 • A TAC • EAST IP • HEAR • COMMAND 3 • BADGER
Which of the following frequencies will NOT have the best signal penetration into a concrete or steel building, and may not penetrate at all? • SECOMM • COMMAND 2 • A TAC • EAST IP • HEAR • COMMAND 3 • BADGER
Narrow banding of VHF Frequencies is required by the _______________. • MPD • FCC. • CIA. • local fire chiefs. • WADOH. • FBI.
Narrow banding of VHF Frequencies is required by the _______________. • MPD • FCC. • CIA. • local fire chiefs. • WADOH. • FBI.
RED NET should be used for ___________________________. • communicating with MedSTAR. • asking the crew what’s for dinner. • telling interior crews to evacuate. • a safety channel on the fire scene. • the Safety Officer on the scene.