06/15/11 446 W - + 0 - 4 Radio Changes

Let's see if we can summarize the recent radio changes you have been or will be hearing on city and county fire channels. There are two pieces to the puzzle: Emergency Fire Dispatch, started on June 8 for all city and county fire calls. And new radio procedures for the Raleigh Fire Department, started June 15.

Emergency Fire Dispatch (EFD) is an extension of Emergency Medical Dispatch, used for over a decade in the Wake County EMS system. Results in more information about each call, and more accurate assignment of priorities to calls. Wider range of call types, too, some of which have been helpfully descriptive, like "extinguished residential structure fire." And there's more post-dispatch information being related, as well.

There are also numeric codes for each call type, such as "67-Delta-2." Those are now being broadcast by Locution. There's a list of the codes on this Radio Reference Wiki. (The site seems to be having bandwidth problems, however. The page is unavailable at present and gets that way from time to time.) Read earlier blog post about EFD, and discussion there. Remember, it's new and being learned.

Raleigh's new radio procedures involve three pieces. First, the elimination of "major working fire" as a description during size-up. Until today, the big MWF resulted in the automatic dispatch of a second alarm. Now, second alarms will be requested as second alarms. Additional alarms will be requested in sequence. No change to the number of units dispatched. (Remember, there's an expanded number of units dispatched for high-rise structure fires.)

Also part of the new radio procedures six-point scene size-ups, and new radio designations for riding positions. Companies have been trying these for a few months already, so you've probably heard some of those changes already. With regard to riding positions, the old ones were numeric. Engine 19-01 as the Captain of Engine 19, for example. The new ones are descriptive:

Last month, the Raleigh Fire Department started new water supply procedures, so there's that new terminology as well. "Laying in wet" versus "laying in dry," for example. See that blog post, if you missed it. Otherwise, happy listening. This concludes today's radio update. Tune in next week for further adventures of the Man with Too Much Free Time.

And IF we ever have a fifth member in the Ladder Company, it’s the “Hook” position. Rare to happen, maybe in the winter months when vacations slow down….
Silver - 06/15/11 - 22:11

Also, isn’t there a new (or rather, alternate) tone on county calls now, for fire dispatches? With the old tone for EMS calls, right?
Legeros - 06/15/11 - 22:14

I had a “Hook” for about an hour the other day! 5 was indeed short lived! ECC may clarify, but they are seemingly still programming and adjusting. I believe the different (EMS) tone on fire dispatch is short lived for now. The other day the different tones it seemed to associate with an EFD determinant code based fire dispatch, but not today. You’ll probably hear something a little different each day until they get it “dialed in.”
A.C. Rich - 06/15/11 - 23:00

And these should be the correct dispatch levels for city fires:

Regular Fire Dispatch

1st Alarm – 3E, 1L, 1R, 1BC
Working Fire – 1E, Air 1, Car 10, Investigator
2nd Alarm – 3E, 1L, 1R, 1BC
3rd Alarm – 3E, 1L
4th Alarm – 3E, 1L
5th Alarm – 3E, 1L

High-Rise Fire Dispatch

1st Alarm – 5E, 2L, 1R, 1BC, Car 10
Working Fire – Results in automatic dispatch of second alarm.
2nd Alarm – 5E, 2L, 1R, 2BC, Air 1, Investigator
3rd Alarm – 5E, 2L
4th Alarm – 5E, 2L
5th Alarm – 5E
Legeros - 06/15/11 - 23:34

Could someone run down a six point scene size up I would hear in Raleigh? Say for a single residential structure, a retail strip mall, and say a 9 story high rise office building? I don’t get to hear the county or Raleigh that often on the radio.
Donaldson - 06/16/11 - 00:53

These changes in procedure are indeed works in progress, and you will likely hear some stranger-than-normal things on the air while we adjust. There is no such thing as a "simple" change in our business, as it relies upon our training of all floor personnel, plus the update of all associated technical systems. Despite countless hours of planning and testing, there are always bound to be some issues that pop up. Some of that is caused in no small way by the fact that we have utilized a number of "work-arounds" to trick our eight year old CAD system into doing things that it wasn’t necessarily programmed to do. As a result, every upgrade or major change in the way we dispatch has to fully account for all of these. With regard to EFD, there are fire service peer reviews built into the process, and we will also see some fine tuning as time goes on. Sometimes things that seemed right on paper don’t work the way we’d like them to in the real world. This review and update is an integral part of the EMD process after all these years, so we’d be foolish not to expect any protocol based system not to need some adjustmens after the break-in period. All in all, we’ve been happy with the progress so far, (especially considering how much change is really happening at once) and look forward to the smoothing out of all the bumps.
RWECC - 06/16/11 - 10:47

@Matthew; 1)Situation (working fire, nothing showing, working fire/ 2nd alarm) 2)Incident Address 3)Building dimensions 4)Establish command 5)Condition details (heavy smoke from the roof, heavy fire from Side A) 6)Assign Resources IF NECESSARY....
Silver - 06/16/11 - 17:08

Thanks Jeff, a friend of mine e-mailed me the presentation. It is a very interesting concept, I can see that it would really help a lot to have a company officer who has been in their area a while and knows the district.
Donaldson - 06/16/11 - 17:57

@Matthew Don’t even get me started!!!!! Hahahaha…
Silver - 06/17/11 - 16:42

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