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STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESSFULLY IMPLEMENTING AN 800MHz RADIO SYSTEM IN THE PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY ... - page 16 / 54

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federal agencies converged on Florida to fight 2,214 brush fires across the state. A variety

of radio communications problems emerged and a lack of interoperability severely

hampered efforts to coordinate a response to the disaster. There were also a limited

number of channels available, which cut down the responsiveness of the public safety

entities. EMS crews were often unable to coordinate locations with regional emergency

response organizations and federal agencies. The state had mandated that although ALS

providers had recently upgraded to a statewide 800 MHz system they should retain their

vhf radios for coordination during disasters. While the radios were in vehicles, they often

hadn’t been maintained or personnel didn’t know how to use them (Siegle and Murphy,

2001, p.1).

No man, woman or child should lose his or her life because firefighters cannot

talk to one another. However, a recent study by the Public Safety Wireless Network

Program (PSWN) shows that one-third of all firefighters have had difficulty responding

to emergencies because of a lack of radio interoperability. Finding and implementing

solutions that facilitate wireless interoperability is the primary mission of the PSWN

Program. This joint initiative of the Justice and Treasury departments is an information

resource and advocate for public safety agencies around the country (Siegle and Murphy,

2001, p.1).

After two separate incidents in which Boston firefighters had become trapped in

burning buildings during structure fires, the circumstances surrounding the incidents were

analyzed to determine the role that the lack of communications played in endangering

personal safety. One of the two incidents resulted in a loss of life. It was determined that:

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