Article about Fire Communications breakdowns

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W1KNE
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Article about Fire Communications breakdowns

#1 Post by W1KNE » 30 Nov 2019 18:53

https://www.wcvb.com/article/communicat ... n/29896430
Lawrence firefighters know their safety depends on being able to communicate. Now there's a new tool to help them do so, a van packed with communications equipment that can let fire departments from all over talk to each other during an emergency.
Mike Fitzpatrick
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Owner: Scan New England - NECRAT.US
Issues with Scan New England can be privately addressed to me. W1KNE at scan-ne.com.

Firefox10
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Re: Article about Fire Communications breakdowns

#2 Post by Firefox10 » 30 Nov 2019 22:35

Nice article. The "new" command unit which Mr. Foote is demonstrating can link all fire depts together. Now, in a situation as the gas explosions and fires and the subsequent evacuation of half the city was under the relm of the police. Lawrence PD jumped in. All cities, towns, and MSP have to report to a command post to get assignments, or use cell phones. Reason being, LPD is encrypted no one including fire (except for dispatch) could talk with LPD. All responding cities were in a fog.

Interoperability? Lawrence PD has 2 repeater channels. Both encrypted. No offense but more than likely the city that calls for most mutual PD aid in state. And they are in chaos when hitting Lawrence. "report to their station for assignments. Their telephone number if 978 794 5900. use your cell phones"

Who was in charge of this fiasco and maybe channel 5 wants a part 2???

......For everyones safety....

dogmandew
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Re: Article about Fire Communications breakdowns

#3 Post by dogmandew » 01 Dec 2019 00:00

That article and the NTSB report it's based off of are so off base it isn't even funny. The only thing that worked well at that event WAS the communications! From the very beginning there were a whole host of communications support on hand. The real failure was in the leadership and the absolute lack of the use of ICS. These reports are just trying to push the failure somewhere else so the spotlight goes away from the real problem. Seriously, submit an information request to the agencies involved for their IAP's from the emergency, you won't get any back because there wasn't any made.

On the police side BAPERN was pushed into use as soon as mutual aid agencies were involved. Multiple channels were in use throughout the event and the coordination with the State Police was seamless on a comms level. Cache radios were deployed when agencies from outside the BAPERN were brought in and didn't have the programming needed. Encryption wasn't an impediment here, keys were shared where they needed to be for command and coordination an operations were on regional resources in the clear like they should be.

Same thing on the fire side. V/U/8 Tacs were stood up and ready to be used. But like the police side there's only so much that can be done when departments and their radio shops don't follow the recommended programming templates let alone train on anything. The crap about too much radio traffic is a training and control issue, not a capacity of the available systems issue.

And this "new" command unit that would magically have solved these issues? That's a big crock too. There were no less than 10 difference command posts on scene, most with FAR more capabilities than the hand me down truck that they're talking about. It's a great resource to have, and I know a lot of people are happy to see the old truck being used again but it's FAR from the golden ticket they are trying to make it out to be.

The truth is this was a lack of team work on the COMMAND level, not the communications level. Put the blame where it belongs, not on the guys who actually made things work. When you have stubborn agencies who won't move forward because of "tradition" this is what happens. The bottom line is chiefs and politicians who all need to be seen as involved and in control and can't put their egos aside and work together are the problem.

/RANT

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Re: Article about Fire Communications breakdowns

#4 Post by W1KNE » 01 Dec 2019 01:13

Firefox10 wrote:
30 Nov 2019 22:35
Nice article. The "new" command unit which Mr. Foote is demonstrating can link all fire depts together. Now, in a situation as the gas explosions and fires and the subsequent evacuation of half the city was under the relm of the police. Lawrence PD jumped in. All cities, towns, and MSP have to report to a command post to get assignments, or use cell phones. Reason being, LPD is encrypted no one including fire (except for dispatch) could talk with LPD. All responding cities were in a fog.

Interoperability? Lawrence PD has 2 repeater channels. Both encrypted. No offense but more than likely the city that calls for most mutual PD aid in state. And they are in chaos when hitting Lawrence. "report to their station for assignments. Their telephone number if 978 794 5900. use your cell phones"

Who was in charge of this fiasco and maybe channel 5 wants a part 2???
When the Gas Explosions happened, Lawrence PD were NOT encrypted at the time. The system was still in the preliminary testing phase but hadn't been put in service yet. LPD was analog at the time of the incident.

And I can assure you with the utmost confidence, that channel 5, or ANY media outlet in Boston wants a part 2, and that's 100% absurd to believe otherwise.
Mike Fitzpatrick
Broadcast Engineer - RF Enthusiast
Owner: Scan New England - NECRAT.US
Issues with Scan New England can be privately addressed to me. W1KNE at scan-ne.com.

Firefox10
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Re: Article about Fire Communications breakdowns

#5 Post by Firefox10 » 01 Dec 2019 11:14

Hi, Sorry if the encryption wasn't a factor at that time for the local pds. I know a couple officers who somehow were locked on encryption and had to borrow an auxiliary's Wouxon radio for the first evening.

With their brand new console, isn't there are red switch that is encrpyt off/on????????

If any emergency happens now, the interoperability is a problem. Methuen, Andover, No. Andover and the State DO NOT have Lawrences encrypted channels. ANd no one ever shared the keys. Only the MSP choppers can do it, done by the radio shop!!

So when a bar brawl happens on friday nights, and the dispatcher calls for Methuen and No. Andover to send some cars "quick" no one on the lawrence side (the dispatchers are usually the cop of the night), and the civilians are only call takers, DO NOT know the slightest about BAPERN channels.

The general hospital and fire alarm have radios with the encryption. But the MSP patrols guys who bought their own UHF or have a scanner to monitor and used to "fly" to Lawrence are in the dark.

I know, from the inside.

MrSvenSven
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Re: Article about Fire Communications breakdowns

#6 Post by MrSvenSven » 01 Dec 2019 14:01

Firefox10 wrote:
01 Dec 2019 11:14
With their brand new console, isn't there are red switch that is encrpyt off/on????????
I'm not familiar with how Lawrence's radios are programmed, but generally speaking the switch is on the transmitting radio. So the dispatcher can switch themselves between clear and encrypted, but each field unit would have to flip the switch if they wanted to talk to a radio that isn't programmed with the encryption key.
57446

jbella
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Re: Article about Fire Communications breakdowns

#7 Post by jbella » 09 Dec 2019 21:44

A "van packed with communications equipment"..........

Excuse me while I throw up.

Anyone every hear of the FieldCom program maybe 15 years ago? The Mass Chiefs got together and bought 6 Sprinter vans at $300K a piece that were dispersed throughout the state to help with interoperability. The only problem was they were dispersed politically, not according to need, and the areas that really needed one didn't get one and I know at least 3 of them were buried inside some stations and didn't see the light of day for 6 or 7 years.

To be fair, one that was up and running immediately and got the most use was Lowell.

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