My department does assign a radio to each firefighter on shift. Does this cause some problems? Absolutely, and one of the things we try to instill in the new members is to use disipline and only relay pertinent information over the radio. The benefits of every member on the fireground having a radio when things go bad far outweigh the negatives that go along with it.
Only our officers and engineers are assigned radio's. However every apparatus has a radio for each position that is to be utilized in case of mayday or what have you. Thus far it has cut down on unwarranted radio traffic but everyone understands that they have a radio to use if needed.
Everyone on our department has their own radio. Sometimes it does create problems though, like when one captain kept his mike keyed giving backing instructions to his MPO for a whole block. all everyone could hear was the backup alarm.
When I started I was told the radio is for listening 95% of the time and talking 5% of the time. If you keep it short and to the point with information that is important there is no problem with people having a radio.
We have radios for each postion. It has not presented any big problms except for the above mentioned feed back. We went to each riding postion having a radio for May Day's. We have a bank charger on the rigs and change batteries every morning on the radios. We also change flash lights and voice amps. Three critical items.
Our Officers are all issued radio and we provide radio in many of the riding positions. It is a work in progress, but on most incidents every firefighter operating will have a portable.
Strong policy, strong enforcement followed by strong peer pressure is the only way to keep the "chatty cathys" off the radio. An emphasis on "face to face" should still be made. How many times have you seen a member at the front door talking by radio to the IC that is only 20 or 30 feet away?
What is communicated needs to be established. When your mission is accomplished, if you can't complete your mission, urgent hazards or problems. And while I understand ICS and it's function, it boggles my mind when I hear an interior company call Command for more pressure, and then Command call the engine supplying the line. Some communications need to go direct and not through Command.
Just because you can use the radio, doesn't mean you should.
The best story I ever heard/read about dealing with a talker went like this.
(from The Last Men Out: Life on the Edge at Rescue 2 Firehouse: Tom Downey)
After a incident where the firefighter was talking too much, the officer met him on the apparatus floor. He calming took the firefighters radio from his geat and then removed the battery. He then placed the battery in one pocket and the radio in the other. He looked at the firefighter and said, "don't put the battery back in that radio unless you have a mayday." aand then "if you have time to put the battery back in, you don't have one."
From the story it was pretty effective for several weeks.
Our department has a radio for every position as it should be. I agree that every firefighter should have a radio, not every firefighter should use a radio. But when things go bad it will be needed to transmit a MAYDAY or urgent message.
If there is too much radio traffic on your fireground it is a training issue.
I have an acronym that I use when I teach
D.I.M.W.I.T. "Does It Matter What I'm Trasmitting" If it Doesn't don't say it.
I want to echo Ryan's thoughts the good far outweighs the negatives
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