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STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESSFULLY IMPLEMENTING AN 800MHz RADIO SYSTEM IN THE PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY ... - page 21 / 54

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even if it occurs once in the lifetime of a system – could be fatal. Therefore, the concepts

of a backup plan, a plan B, redundancy, preplanning, training and even innovation are as

critical to successful fireground communications as to other fireground functions. But,

this does not mean that you cannot achieve successful fireground communications”

(Dittmar, 2002, p.55).

“Even though 100 percent radio propagation (which is statistical in nature) is

impossible to achieve, the on-scene commander should always be able to talk to the

firefighters at the end of the hose or in the structure with a short range (fireground)

channel,” says Frederick G. Griffin, P.E., president of the Frederick G. Griffin, P.C.,

consulting firm based in Lynchburg, Virginia (Dittmar, 2002, p.55).

When beginning the process of searching for or designing a communications

system, it might help to begin with realistic expectations (Dittmar, 2002, p. 55). “If you

approach the implementation of a digital-based system methodically and without trying

to apply analog experiences and expectation to the process, the transition to this

technology can be made far less complicated,” says John M. Buckman, chief of the

German Township (IN) Volunteer Fire Department in Evansville, Indiana, and president

of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (Dittmar, 2002, p. 55).

“Often, the assumption is that a fire department has 100 percent coverage with the

system that is being replaced,” observes Leif Anderson, captain, technical services,

Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department. “There is not a single fire service radio system today that

has 100 percent coverage,” he says. “Firefighters know of many places within their city

where they cannot talk with a fire radio.” As Anderson sees it, “… fire departments need

to design a modern system for exceptional coverage, at least 95 percent for analog

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