Controversial Radio System Operates in Chicago

Former Fire Commissioner Hoff questioned reliability of digital frequencies and transmitters.


 
 

FRAN SPIELMAN, Chicago Sun-Times | | Friday, May 18, 2012


A $23 million digital radio system - purchased in 2006 under a no-bid contract awarded under questionable circumstances - will help speed emergency response during the NATO Summit.

Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford disclosed Thursday that "some of the channels" provided by the long-stalled Motorola system would be used by top brass for "command and control" within the "NATO summit footprint" surrounding McCormick Place.

"This will allow us to operate and dispatch resources separately from the regular citywide system and the main radio system for better flexibility and control," Langford said.

The Motorola radios were purchased in 2006 to prevent communications breakdowns like the one that contributed heavily to six deaths at an October 2003 high-rise fire at 69 W. Washington.

Last fall, a federal report blamed a shortage of radios, in part, for the death of two firefighters during a roof collapse at an abandoned laundry.

Then-Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff responded by defending his decision to delay the switch to digital radios. After exhaustive testing, Hoff said he was still not convinced about the reliability of the digital frequencies or the number of transmitters.

Since then, the city's concerns have been resolved.

Six weeks ago, paramedics made a relatively seamless switch to the digital system. Their transition required less training because it involves the same type of radio paramedics already were using.

The old communications system used by Chicago firefighters involves a "totally different radio, different controls and different frequency band" than the digital system, requiring more extensive training, Langford said. That training for rank-and-file firefighters is scheduled to begin June 1 after the NATO summit is over.

When fully operational, the digital radio system will allow police officers and firefighters to communicate directly with each other, instead of relying on the cumbersome process of console patching by 911 center dispatchers.



Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, radios

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Community Paramedicine Expanding in Maine

Eight departments receive a grant for use towards the new program.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Ambulance, Fire Engine Approved for Illinois Department

Officials approve new purchases for Bloomington.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Alabama Officials Worry over Ambulance Coverage

County officials work to find best solution.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Car Crashes into Texas Ambulance

Ambulance hit while responding to a call.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

California Beach Lightning Strike MCI

More than a dozen injured in Venice Beach lighting strike.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >