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Part 2: Using, CLEANING, and troubleshooting fire service portable radios

*This will be a multipart topic covered over several posts, all focusing on the use and maintenance of the fire service portable radio*

Part 2: Cleaning The Fire Service Portable Radio

Several months ago, one of my tech ops friends approached me about a portable radio assigned to my station that had been sent in for repair due to transmitting and receiving problems. The photographs of this portable were shared with me, and the exterior of the radio had seen quite a bit of fire duty. While debris, soot, or dirt on the exterior of the radio might not cause it to work improperly, these same products of fire can work their way into the connections on the portable radio, which will effect the performance of your portable radio. The Radio Speaker Microphone (RSM) connection on the side of the radio, the antenna, and battery connections will all gather debris- even from one fire.   

Now that you know that a dirty portable is potentially a non-working radio, I will share with you an easy way to clean it 

First, get an old toothbrush, or a non-metallic small bristle brush (the latter can be found at any hardware store). Next, gather a few cleaning towels, a large cup or small bucket, and some dishwashing detergent.

Lay one towel out, and take the RSM, battery, and antenna off of the radio. DO NOT attempt to disassemble the radio- the only screws you should unscrew are the RSM connection screw and the antenna.

Using a drop or two of detergent and warm water, mix a solution up in a large cup or small bucket. 

Dampen one of the towels and wipe all visible debris from the exterior of the radio. Use the brush to clear out any debris in the female antenna connection on the portable itself, and the male connector on the antenna. Also give the battery and RSM connection and points a light scrubbing on the radio itself. Finally, lightly scrub the male antenna connection on the antenna itself and the RSM connector on the RSM, and wipe down the RSM mic and cord. 

Wipe the portable radio and it's parts down with a clean dry towel before reassembly. Once reassembled, perform a service check to ensure everything is operating as it should. I recommend cleaning a portable radio after every fire and at monthly intervals.

Additional information on cleaning your specific fire service portable radio model can be found via the manufacturer in most user guides- here is an example from Motorola I found online:

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