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STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESSFULLY IMPLEMENTING AN 800MHz RADIO SYSTEM IN THE PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY ... - page 13 / 54

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room and asked them to communicate with each other. After a half hour of trying they

had failed. Unfortunately, that’s essentially what’s happening in some fire departments,

he warned. Fire fighters are being handed radios without being trained to use them.

(IAFF, 2001, p.2).

“Our communications are mission-critical. Our communications need to work 100

percent of the time,” he told workshop participants. “Anything less is unacceptable. The

lives of not only our fire fighters, but also the public depend on it” (IAFF, 2001, p.2).

According to Captain Mike Worrell of the Phoenix, Arizona fire department he

stated that “in the aftermath of September 11th, many questions have arisen about

communications difficulties that were encountered. Reading many of the articles the term

communications was not limited to radio technology. Many communications were

procedural and operational. Since we (at Phoenix Fire) are in the midst of a large-scale

radio system change, the communications problems encountered in New York City were

looked at from a radio technology standpoint (Worrell, 2002, p.1).

He further states that, in March 2001, the Fire Department of New York made an

attempt to switch to newer digital technology. While these radios were digital, they were

not trunked. The department remained on their old frequencies but switched to digital

radios. This can be likened to switching from analog cell phone service to digital. The

department did minimal training, and the radios acted differently then the old analog

radios. Since the users had minimal training, they were not aware of some of the

operating characteristics of the new radios. Users soon complained of poor

communications. After one week in the field, the digital radios were pulled from service.

The New York City Fire Department conceded that they had moved too fast in an effort

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