This post comes on the heels of some discussion and training scenarios that we had at work. We have had the lapel microphones for our radios for a few years now, but it was a bit of a joke. Depending on who you relieved in the morning depended on whether the lapel mic was on that particular radio or not.
I am a big fan of the lapel mics, and a lot of our guys use the radio straps. I used to keep the radio in a radio pocket and have the mic wrapped around the back of my neck. I then read a report of a Firefighter that was in a situation where the mic actually failed because the heat damaged the cord.
We purchased radio for each firefighter on a grant, and as part of that everyone was issued a radio strap and case. There is probably a 50/50 split for those using cases versus the pocket and only a couple that don't use the lapel mics.
I wear the strap under my gear, but low enough so I can lift the bottom of my coat to get to it. That was the radio stays clean and dry. I bring the mic out through the top of the neck of my coat and either leave it hanging so I can grab it and move it to my mouth/mask. Or if not masked up I will clip it to a mic tab on my coat collar.
My question for the no lapel people, if how do you get any work done with the radio in your hand? Or do you have to go looking for it each time you need it?
-A properly worn radio lapel mic has several advantages that should not be overlooked.
-Firstly, the radio can be heard better as the mic is closer to the firefighters ear.
-It is easier to talk properly on the radio. Most firefighters still don't get this and it really is incumbent that we read the information the manufacturer provides.
-According to the manufacturer to broadcast properly the user should speak across the surface of the mic and not into it. Using lapel mic worn on a radio strap places the mic in the perfect position for this, especially when wearing an SCBA. The speaking diaphragms line up with a radio strap mounted lapel mic when the firefighter simply angles their head.
-The excuse of difficulty with attachment while wearing gloves is just that... an excuse. Use a radio strap and all the problems go away. Then all you need do is push the button and talk. It actually takes longer to retrieve the radio from inside the radio pocket while wearing structure gloves and the radio is harder to hear when carried in a pocket. It places the radio further from the ear and broadcasting away from the firefighter. Remember, portable radios are unidirectional.
-Burt Clark points out that in a Mayday situation the use of a lapel mic worn on a radio strap improves the ability of the firefighter to transmit a Mayday much faster, by several minutes, as the radio doesn't have to be retrieved from a pocket and manipulated. Whereas a lapel mic just needs to be keyed.
-Entanglement hazard? Really? That is such a weak excuse Im not even going to address it. What it comes down to is that the lapel mic is something new to these crybabies and they don't want to invest the time, discipline or burn the caloric energy to learn something new.