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Communications and Alarms


Chapter 3 Communications and Alarms Introduction This chapter covers: Effective emergency response Effective telecommunication Proactive measures to ensure ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Communications and Alarms

Chapter 3
  • Communications and Alarms

  • This chapter covers
  • Effective emergency response
  • Effective telecommunication
  • Proactive measures to ensure communication
  • Teaching communications skills to employees
  • Upgrading communications systems
  • Incorporating modern technology

Figure 3-1 The communications process must be
complete and clearly understood in order to be
Communications Personnel
  • Receives emergency requests from citizens
  • Evaluates need for response
  • Sounds the alarm that starts first responders
  • Provide pre-arrival instructions
  • NFPA 1061 standard outlines behavioral
  • Quality training program work performance
  • Adequate staffing level at communications centers

The Communications Facility
  • Many different configurations
  • All receive and disseminate emergency and
    non-emergency information
  • NFPA 1221 standards for construction of emergency
    communications centers
  • Built in area where little risk of damage
  • Limited traffic, limited exposure to man-made
  • Few windows all outside entrances monitored
  • Backup power systems use automatic switching

Computers in the Fire Service
  • Many departments incorporate computer systems in
    the communications systems
  • Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems
  • Handle increased call volume
  • Uses for computers
  • Create and store records on incidents and
  • Aid in statistical analysis
  • Provide remote locations with information
  • Allow access to off-site databases for training
    or incident mitigation

Receiving Reports ofEmergencies
  • Call-taking process
  • Receive a report
  • Interview
  • Referral or dispatch composition
  • Speed is very important during interview
  • Telecommunicators must prioritize calls
  • Most important calls should get fastest attention

Figure 3-7 This figure illustrates the work flow
of call processing by a public safety
Receiving Reports ofEmergencies (contd.)
  • Calls should be answered in following priority
  • 9-1-1 and other emergency lines
  • Direct lines
  • Business or administrative lines
  • Telecommunicators should
  • Speak slowly and clearly with good volume
  • Project authority and knowledge
  • Use plain, everyday language, polite and friendly

Receiving Reports ofEmergencies (contd.)
  • Telecommunicator must control the conversation
  • May be difficult for caller to relay elements of
  • Ask short, specific questions
  • Non-emergency calls should be accommodated
  • Prior to transferring, provide the number to the
  • Obtain the following information
  • Location and nature of the emergency
  • Callback number, callers location and situation

Receiving Reports ofEmergencies (contd.)
  • Once caller provides location, secure additional
    information such as landmarks if safe
  • Life safety is of primary importance
  • Determine if caller is in danger
  • If so, provide pre-arrival instructions
  • Information relayed to field units via radio
  • Note callers proximity to incident location
  • Useful in locating incidents

Receiving Reports ofEmergencies (contd.)
  • Once sufficient address and incident type
    verified, deploy emergency apparatus
  • Average citizen will only report one emergency in
    a lifetime
  • Call takers must ask the right questions to
    generate meaningful responses
  • Emergency medical calls require much more

Methods of ReceivingReports of Emergencies
  • Common means for receiving reports
  • Conventional telephones
  • Wireless or cellular telephones
  • Emergency call boxes
  • Automatic alarms
  • TDD equipment for hearing impaired
  • Still alarms or walk-ups

Receiving Reports byTelephone
  • Conventional telephones most commonly used
  • Cellular telephones becoming more popular
  • 93 percent of the population of the U.S. covered
    by some type of 9-1-1
  • 95 percent is enhanced 9-1-1
  • Enhanced 9-1-1 service provides telephone number
    and address from originating call
  • Basic and advanced service available through
    residential and business lines

Receiving Reports viaCellular Telephones
  • Any 9-1-1 calls initiated with cell phone routed
    to a predetermined answering point
  • Negative aspects of cell phone use
  • Significant increase in call center volume
  • Callers less likely to know their location
  • Cell phone manufacturers must provide means to
    locate cell phone users
  • Satellite technology can provide exact position

Receiving Reports via Municipal Fire Alarm
  • Coded or voice message is generated from an alarm
  • Came into use in late 1800s
  • Located in a highly visible place open to the
    general public
  • Can be hardwired or wireless and solar-powered
  • Discontinued in many cities due to false alarms

Figure 3-10 Some call boxes are equipped with
signal switches that allow the caller to select
the type of emergency being reported.
Receiving Reports viaAutomatic Alarm Systems
  • Two types of public alarm systems
  • Five common types of automatic alarm monitoring
  • Local protective signaling system
  • Auxiliary protective signaling system
  • Remote station protective signaling system
  • Central station protective signaling system
  • Proprietary protective signaling system

Receiving Reports via TDD
  • Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDDs)
    more common
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) entitles
    citizens to equal service from public agencies
  • Communications centers required to receive calls
    with specialized equipment
  • Devices serve as a backup when enhanced 9-1-1 or
    CAD are present

Receiving Reports via StillAlarm or Walk-Ups
  • Receiving complete and accurate information is
  • Protocols for different departments may vary
  • Specific notification systems covered in
    departmental protocols
  • Ring down circuits, base radio, mobile radio
    communicate with the communications center
  • Important to notify communications center

Figure 3-16 A firefighter relays information
from the fire station to the communications
center via direct telephone circuit.
Emergency Services Deployment
  • Address is the most important information from
    the caller
  • Emergency response organizations identify common
  • Pre-assign a standard response to each situation
  • Deployment plan based on apparatus types,
    equipment, number of personnel, and skills
  • Manual run card system
  • Card file containing street and location
  • Predetermined unit assignments for each location

Emergency ServicesDeployment (contd.)
  • Global Positioning Systems (GPS) aid in
    deployment of responders
  • Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) uses GPS
    technology to pinpoint incident location
  • Can also detect closest response vehicle
  • After determining appropriate deployment scheme,
    responders are notified

Figure 3-18 AVL systems help to locate the
response unit closest to an incident location.
Emergency ServicesDeployment (contd.)
  • Fire station alerting must comply with NFPA
  • Voice message transmitted from communications
    center to fire station via vocal alarm system
  • Operate via control unit connected to telephone
    circuits or radio transmitter
  • Telecommunicator decides appropriate fire
    stations to notify and activate

Traffic Control Systems
  • Emergency preemption systems control traffic
  • Provide safe transition to priority right-of-way
    for emergency vehicles
  • Systems may allow response vehicle to change the
    traffic control signals en route
  • Variety of systems, each using different

Radio Systems and Procedures
  • Once personnel deployed, communicators provide
  • Radio system is the primary link
  • Simplex system one frequency to transmit
    outgoing messages and to receive incoming
  • Advantage simplistic design reduced cost
  • Disadvantage limited range interference
  • Duplex system two frequencies per channel
  • Multisite trunking multiple transmitters on
    different channels

Figure 3-30 Multisite trunked radio systems
provide perhaps the best coverage and also offer
direct benefits associated with the most
efficient use of radio resources.
Radio Systems andProcedures (contd.)
  • Proper radio discipline is important
  • Avoid clipping beginning or end of message
  • Be brief but concise
  • Avoid touching any radio antenna to avoid burns
  • Do not eat, or use slang, profanity or jargon
  • Speak clearly across the microphone
  • Portable units should be held perpendicular to
    ground with antenna pointing skyward

Figure 3-31 This figure shows the proper use of
a mobile radio microphone.
Figure 3-32 Improper use of a mobile microphone.
Figure 3-33 The user has positioned the portable
radio properly and is speaking across the
Figure 3-34 This figure shows the improper
positioning of a portable radio.
Radio Systems andProcedures (contd.)
  • Ten codes make up a predetermined message
  • More confidential and cryptic
  • Must be learned and remembered
  • Clear speech conveys information, issues
  • Eliminates confusion associated with radio codes
  • Electronic tones alert firefighters to evacuate
  • Some systems use air horns

Radio Reports
  • Communications officer is incident commander
    until field units arrive on scene
  • First unit arriving gives size-up
  • Brief information about on-scene conditions
  • Clear, precise language

Radio Reports (contd.)
  • Size-up contains
  • Correct address
  • Situation evaluation
  • Emergency location in the building
  • Building information, potential occupants
  • Request for other agency support
  • Location of on-scene command post
  • Identity of incident commander
  • Brief action plan for the incident

Radio Reports (contd.)
  • First status report made 10 minutes into incident
  • Follow-up reports every 10 to 15 minutes until
    situation under control
  • Firefighters must call mayday the moment they may
    be in trouble
  • Mayday must receive priority over the radio
  • Procedures must be in place for calling a mayday
  • Firefighters must know procedures

Mobile Support Vehicles
  • Mobile support vehicles (MSVs) used for major
    invents involving fire and EMS
  • Provide an on-scene command post from which
    operations can be directed
  • Deployment determined by size of incident,
    projected duration of activities
  • MSVs highly specialized
  • Size depends on jurisdiction

  • Complete and accurate communications center
    records maintained on all responses
  • Routine practice in most communications centers
    to record all emergency traffic
  • Fire reports are public record
  • Minimum information
  • Call time, units dispatched, dispatch times
  • Arrival time, command post information, requests
  • All-clear time, under-control time,
    back-in-service times for all units

Lessons Learned
  • Telecommunicator is the first person on the
  • Direct impact of citizens impression of
  • Collects information accurately and rapidly
    transmits to first responders
  • Answers incoming calls quickly, gains control of
    the call, and calms caller
  • Makes wise use of all available resources
  • Plays vital role in successful outcome of an
    emergency incident