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 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
Radios have become just as much a firefighters PPE as the helmet. Many departments across the US have spent lots of money on fancy accountability systems when the best tool for accountability on the fire ground is the radio. What good is an accountability board when a firefighter may have been trapped without air for twenty minutes ? Where we do lack in is how much talking goes on the radio. It sounds like common sense, but we cannot teach common sense to our new recruits. Maybe we can teach them how to talk on a radio. Also, people need to learn that it is just as important to listen to the communications on the fireground as it is to talk!
Every riding position on our department carries a radio, with the exception of a company riding heavy. Meaning, once companies go above the 4 person minimum manning to 5 firefighters, there is no 5th radio. This will happen in the next six months, when our department hires a new class recruits. The extra radio would be a huge cost to the department, when this only happens every few years. For the most part, everyone is assigned a radio, and everyone uses them with discretion.
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