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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 had some Captains that hated them and would take them off as soon as they got on the truck and others did the exact opposite. Which, in turn happened with everyone else on the truck and we lost mics and so on an so on.

I personally like the lapel mics for the simple reason that you can get to it and get your “voice” closer to the mic when geared up and on air. Once you place your radio in a pocket and put your SCBA on, it can be almost impossible to get it out and talk on it.

Of course the argument from our dissenters is that the mic cord gets tangled up and it is a pain in the butt when you don’t need it. It is also difficult to re-clip the mic onto your coat or SCBA with gloves on.

I maintain that you have a better chance getting to the mic if you get into trouble as compared to the radio in a pocket.

What is the rest of the country and world doing?

Let us know your opinions and experiences.

Stay safe and thanks for reading.

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Dave,
I am with you on this one. I prefer to wear the strap as well. Most of the guys here who don't like, never tried to wear it and haven't trained wearing it. As far as where they keep there radios, in a radio pocket on calls and then they can't get to them. I have also seen them clipped to SCBA straps, and seen them come off without notice because of the plastic clip breaking or it not completely wrapping around the strap.
When not on calls they are clipped onto belts and pants.

Dave LeBlanc said:
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?
I use my radio pocket, not because I’m a fan, just haven’t got a strap yet, but, Father’s Day is close. I keep my mike where I can use it when I’m in my mask, normally on my collar on a fire. Medical run I’ll use a spare WT and clip it to my pants. We used to have WT’s with no lapel mike, I hated them, a pain in the tail all the way around.
I'am a huge fan of "hands free" communication. There are very few examples where having a radio in your hand is a good idea. Look at Cops, war fighters, hazmat ops, pump operators, etc. Firefighting is a two handed job and if you say that you are being a more effective crew leader/Officer because you have a radio in your hand, you are also being LESS effective in performing your task (advance the 2.5, search, vent). A radio in one hand and a TIC or flashlight means that you are knee walking through you scene and you can't help with the task, or help to save your crew or yourself. Also, if you go through the floor or have the ceiling fall on you, you will be the FIRST person in the history of the fire service that will have that radio in your hand when your brain gets caught up to your body. Much better to have the radio inside you turnouts and the mic next to your face.

I bought a throat mic from Con-Space because it would connect to the Scott E-Z-Radio Comm system that my Dept bought. Problem with the EZ was that it only worked with a face piece. Problem with the throat mic was, the hood rubs and causes noise. Trying to find a work-around is tough. Getting mics for all hands (and behind the headsets for the D/Os) is the better and cheaper way to go.
Larry
I use the strap and case on all calls. It has become habit now on every call, it goes on. Some guys don't even want to try them while others use them depending on the call.

Under the coat, mic over the collar is what I found works best for me. Like Dave said, protects radio yet is still easy to get to both parts, no hang ups or tangles.

I bought a Boston Leather which is a better quality than what the department ended up buying for us, just my opinion though.

Todd
I would agree that using a radio strap is the way to go. Our department uses lapel mics for all issued radios. I have gone back and forth with the strap and pocket and find that the radio strap works better for me, although I am the minority. I like having the mic always where you think it is. Takes a little work to get used to changing channels and groups when required but that is just an issue of practice for me. I found that in the coat pocket I was constantly taking the radio out of the pocket or struggling to re-clip the mic. In general the lapel mics are great no matter how you carry or use them. They are easy to hear, easy to find and as already suggested keep your hands free to actually do some work.
I also use a radio strap. We have guys that hate the mics and take them off. I use my strap due to me keeping my wire cutters in my coat radio pocket and I can hear the radio better when I'm pumping. Like everyone else, I keep my strap under my coat and feed the mic through my collar and hook it onto my mic clip on my right side.

"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."

Some of our guys took a class that was taught by a Salisbury FD (NC) Capt and he mentioned this to our guys. I'm not exactly sure of the particulars but I believed he told them that Salisbury doesn't allow their personnel to wear the lapel mics around their neck anymore. I'll try to research this some more and find out definately. Something to think about it. Stay Safe!

Larry
I have tried the leather strap and although some in my department like it, I did not. It seemed to work fine on most calls but I did not like it when fully geared and packed up. I use a retractable Gear Keeper that I have mounted to the collar of my coat so the lapel mic is close to my ear for easier listening but once I use it, it returns to the same place without having to reclip it anywhere. In fact after using mine for a year or two our department purchased a similar gear keeper for all interior certified fire fighters. Personally I see the lapel mic a major safety issue, if you cannot locate it to call the Mayday then why should you even have a radio at all? Some members clip the mic to the right side mic tab with the radio in left side chest radio pocket which routes the mic cord around behind the neck and prevents it from having lots of slack that gets caught on things or get in the way.
Hope this helps,
Ron
Some like it, some don't. Our dept uses the leather strap and case simply for one reason.....safety and self-rescue. Imagine falling through the floor, roof, or experiencing an interior collapse only to find your arms/hands broken or pinned, unable to transmit a MAYDAY. Simply take your cheek or chin and depress the mic button on your leather strap against your shoulder and transmit the MAYDAY. That's what it was intended for, IMO. Not all mic lapels have a protruding button, but I would recommend getting one that does, in the vent that one of the three cases listed above ever happens. It may one day save your life. Stay safe, stay low, and keep moving.

Nick
I love the lapel mics. They work great for us at both my career and part time departments. My only advice would be to not remove the mic from your coat when your transmit. Then it is not as difficult to get it "reclipped" to your coat with your gloves on. You would be surprised the range of the mics. Just reach over, key the mic, turn towards the mic, and start yakking away.
Ok,

Just my humble opinion after using the mic, with a leather strap for more than a decade. We know that when the mic comes off, it's difficult with a gloved hand to re-attach. So, here's your answer to that problem....

Purchase a small clip similiar to a caribiner. Attach it to the strap where the metal on your strap, where the adjustment is, and attach the mic through the clip right before the "windings". This will not only prevent it from falling away, but will always be on, or near your chest when crawling around. If you want a picture of mine, shoot me an email!

Greg
Gregw@franklin-gov.com
-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.
Attachments:
Nice, I fight this fight every day at my career dept. I put the radio in a strap when I come on duty and have to do it again at the beginning of my next shift. We even have guys that take off the lapel mic all together. Thanks for the great discussion and stay safe down there in the Southwest.

Jason

Michael Bricault said:
-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.

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