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

The Evolution of Civilian High Threat Medical Guidelines

How mass killing events have proven a need for new guidelines.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Baltimore Man Rescued from Building Collapse

Rowhouse collapse traps a worker in the basement area.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

A Night with Wisconsin’s Busiest Medic Unit

Ride along one night with the paramedics of MED 5.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Patient Dies in West Virginia Ambulance Rollover

Marion County Rescue Squad crew is injured in collision.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Rescue Volunteers in Syria

White Helmets group at work during fighting.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Boulder Pins Colorado Hiker

Wilderness EMS team frees trapped hiker.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

North Dakota Oilfield Medics

Tactics used in offshore platforms tailored to the remote areas.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >