Good Communications Requires Good Equipment

David Clark headsets and Motorola mobile data terminals are becoming common in apparatus.
David Clark headsets and Motorola mobile data terminals are becoming more common in modern apparatus.
Motorola two-way portables are popular with emergency medical service personnel.
Motorola two-way portables are among the most popular with emergency medical service personnel.
Kenwood manufacturers a variety of mobile and portable two-way communications radios and equipment.
Kenwood manufacturers a variety of mobile and portable two-way communications radios and equipment.
David Clark intercom systems have noise attenuating headsets to reduce noise in harsh environments.
David Clark intercom systems have noise attenuating headsets to reduce noise in harsh environments.
David Clark headsets at the pump panel afford pump operators hearing protection and clear operations communications.E
David Clark headsets at the pump panel afford pump operators hearing protection and clear operations communications. (David Clark Photo)
Motorola computers can be removed from the vehicle-mounted pedestals to provide even greater mobility.
Motorola computers can be removed from the vehicle-mounted pedestals to provide even greater mobility.
Avcomm headsets will accept cords on either the left or right.
Avcomm headsets will accept cords on either the left or right depending on the operators’ desires.
Avcom connect with major brands of safety intercoms with an EasyLink design.
Avcom connect with all major brands of safety intercoms with a trademarked EasyLink design.
Motorola's mobile computers provide access to databases, maps and building information.
Motorola’s mobile computers provide instant access to databases, maps and building information.

Communication by definition is the act of conveying information. That sounds simple enough – until something goes wrong. Then it can mean the difference between life and death.

Today’s firefighters and emergency personnel have many choices to improve the odds that things will go right. Here is a round up of manufacturers who strive to keep you safe.

David Clark Company Incorporated (DCCI) was the first to address the problem of communicating effectively in the high noise environments of emergency response vehicles. DCCI also addressed a second problem of long-term safety for firemen-hearing loss.

The Series 3800 Vehicle Intercom System uses noise-attenuating headsets to reduce noise and provide communication at normal conversation levels.

Intercom Systems

Its intercom system connects with existing mobile radios so officers can communicate with headsets to multiple radios and to crew. DCCI was the first to provide this capability for the fire and emergency services markets.

The modularity of the system is a key function. “We can customize the system to meet the needs of any truck, in any department” said Rob Baron, product manager for systems & wireless at DCCI. “The challenge of meeting any given department’s needs, within budget, while insuring compatibility with their existing system, is something we do everyday. We have a variety of DCI modules that give us the flexibility to achieve this.”

Longevity is an important consideration. “The Series 3800 Vehicle Intercom System is considered to be the most reliable, durable and versatile product on the market,” said Baron. “Some departments remove DCCI equipment from vehicles that have out lived their usefulness and install it in their new apparatus.”

Two additional factors add longevity. First, the Series 3800 is compatible with a wide range of supply voltages, including 12-volts DC and 24-volts DC. Second, is the system’s robustness. It is weather-tight and offers high levels of radio frequency interference (RFI) and electromagnetic interference (EMI) immunity.

For more information about these made-in-the-USA products, call Rob Baron at 508-751-5800, x202 or

AVCOMM International

The need for an incident commander to easily switch communications back and forth between dispatch and crew has been solved by AVCOMM International, Inc.

AVCOMM’s SH60 is a hands-free, dual portable headset allowing communication with two portable radios. This model has dual radio push-to-talk (PTT) buttons.

The SH50, an intercom/radio headset, can provide communications to a handheld or mobile on one side, and to a portable on the other side.

Compatibility between AVCOMM headsets and existing intercoms is accomplished via detachable cords. All models feature AVCOMM’s exclusive EasyLink design. This feature allows the headset to connect with all major brands of safety intercoms.

If the department’s fleet has different intercom models, simply select the compatible cord for the respective system. Headsets will accept cords on either the left or right, so you decide which is best.

Finding Solutions

Ear safety is also an AVCOMM focus. Rick Edwards, one of the owners of AVCOMM, explained that AVCOMM found a solution to the problem of microphones in the same doghouse picking up high decibel ambient noise.

 “We added K chips to our intercom circuit board that allow individual squelch control,” said Edwards. “It opens only the mic of the person who is speaking and keeps all other intercom mics closed until they speak. This results in reduced noise and quieter reception for all those listening.”

AVCOMM developed a warning tone system (WTG) that creates a warning tone in the headset that may help save your apparatus.

For fire safety apparatus, the WTG can give an audible tone for low pump or air brake pressure, engine overheating or any other fault output from the apparatus control electronics. This information is critical to the pump panel operator. The SR-WTG works with both active high and active low fault systems.

For information call 800-845-7541 or go to


The fire service has grown more complex with each passing year and Motorola helps departments stay in contact with multiple agencies, send and receive numerous types of information, using IP and broadband networks, and control operations with an enhanced level of personnel safety.

Dispatch console configurations and fire station alerting/dispatching accomplish core responsibilities by providing communications via IP and broadband networks for a seamless information exchange.

The company’s Motobridge is a modular interoperable radio system that is expandable to serve every need from a small department to a system of statewide regions with thousands of systems.

Motorola’s portable radios meet military specifications, are ergonomically designed and minimize background noise.

Its mobile radios support several modes with multiple control heads for both tactical and large area operations and are available with features such as MDC emergency, PTT ID display and Evacuation Tone.

Mobile computers access local databases and details graphic images like building maps and street maps.

The company also provides equipment for incident scene management. This system delivers real-time data and video from first responders to the command center and those en route. It can also serve as a stand-alone network should fixed communication become damaged.

Location solutions, offered by the company, find and track people, vehicles and other tagged items and provide personnel tracking at all times. Rapidly-Deployed Video captures, records and shares video from mobile video pods set up on-scene.

The Fireground System enables portables to be used as an electronic personnel accountability tool. Incident commanders can identify emergency responders on the scene and monitor their work or sector assignments.

Motorola’s MeshTrack provides location information to first responders and incident commanders alike. It tracks personnel and resources, even inside buildings, while also providing a broadband channel for live video, audio and telemetry data.

Similarly, MOTOMESH is a high-bandwidth, self-forming ad-hoc network that shares large files and streaming video from or at a remote scene.

For more information on these and other Motorola products and services, call 800-3367-2346 or go to


The newest radios in Kenwood’s P25 line-up of mobiles and portables are the TK-5310 UHF portable and the TK-5810 UHF mobile radio. These radios join the Kenwood P25 TK-5210 VHF handheld and the TK-5710 (H) VHF mobile. They represent present and future interoperability requirements.

Like the TK-5710 and TK-5210, the new P25 radios are capable of FM and Project 25 (P25) digital operation. P25 is a digital standard developed specifically for public safety radios, including fire services, and allows for additional features and flexible operation. The P25 trunked option permits operation on local, regional and statewide Project 25 compliant networked systems.

Available in a basic non-display, display and display with keypad models, the 16-character LCD and controls provide an intuitive user interface simplifying P25 and FM operation for all user types.

Features that are specifically oriented to firefighter safety include extra large and easy to use knobs, a 16-position selector knob, menu-driven program function keys and the orange emergency/AUX key.

In P25 operation, the radios feature specialized function keys such as Talk Group ID, individual ID lists and a caller ID display as well as encryption key delete, key zeroize and key retention (with SCM).

Enhanced Kenwood audio allows for operation in high-noise environments, the radios include voice annunciation, tactical group, and battery level indicators, which are all additional safety features useful to firefighters.

These radios meet the full range of stringent military standards as well as government standards for water and dust protection. They also meet Intrinsically Safe (IS) safety technology standards.

Multiple Configurations

The mobiles feature multiple mounting configurations – dash mount, single-control head remote mount and dual-control head remote mount. Like the portables, there is a brightly lit display, which is important to firefighters.

In FM operation, the portable and mobile are FleetSync and FleetSyncII compatible, which is a Kenwood exclusive automated vehicle location (AVL) and global position satellite (GPS) option.

For product information and sales, call 800-950-5005 or go to


Firecom offers complete integrated communication systems from intercoms to individual hardware. Four system configurations are available to meet various departmental requirements.

Six different intercom systems are available for use with any one of the four system configurations. Each meets specific needs. They range from single-person, two-position systems, to digital exterior-mounted units. Remote heads are also available for further apparatus customization.

Firecom’s on-scene communication starts with exterior headset positions that can be installed at the pump panel, tiller, and bucket.

Outside the cab, on-scene radio communications can include the added benefit of hearing protection. The handheld radio interface connects a Firecom headset to portable radios to let the users move freely.

There are dual- and single-ear models as well as a lightweight model. A wide variety of features, both standard and dedicated, are available.

Other headsets feature a bone conduction microphone. The bone conduction microphone is attached to an adjustable head strap between the ear domes and makes contact with the back of the user’s head.

The high noise attenuating properties of both the microphone and the ear domes make this headset ideal for engineers, pump operators and firefighters working with helicopters.

Firecom’s interface products include: a direct wire radio interface for adding audible mobility and hearing protection; a hand-held radio interface using an inline adapter instead of a headset; triple radio interface that allows monitoring of three separate radios at once and transmission on one, two or all three radios. The dual radio interface is designed for use with Firecom’s basic 3000C system and allows monitoring of two radio channels at once with transmission on either channel.

A complete line of accessories is also found in Firecom’s product portfolio.

For more information about Firecom, call 800-527-0555 or visit them on the web at

RELM Wireless

RELM Wireless, Inc. offers three product lines. Top-of-the-line BK Radio products include both the high-specification G Series analog and the new D Series Association of Public-Safety Communications (APCO) P25 digital radios.

Relm/BK products provide professional-grade radios with the robust features and functionality associated with the BK Radio brand, yet the cost efficiencies of the basic RELM business-grade radios as well. For example, radios plus pagers are available at about the cost for a pager alone.

RELM business-grade radios offer an unusually wide range of features, but also exceptional performance at the lowest cost for comparable products, according to the manufacturer.

RELM Wireless is one of the first manufacturers to develop digital product technology in full compliance with APCO Project 25 specifications. Newer and more efficient digital radio design and production generate the most affordable APCO P25 solutions in the market today, says RELM.

In addition, next-generation design is software-driven rather than requiring add-on hardware components, resulting in new features, functions, and enhancements without adding substantial cost. A streamlined user interface makes the BK Radio D Series digital radios easy to use and customize for specific user requirements, said the maker.

Features of the D Series digital portable include: Data Encryption Standard/Advanced Encryption Standard (DES/AES) options, digital, analog, and mixed-mode operations on each channel and automatic mode detection.

An upgrade option is available from BK Radio G Series analog radios to D Series digital radios with the addition of a unique component that allows two-stage migration from analog to digital APCO P25 capabilities as cloning technology transfers information from one radio to another radio automatically. FLASH technology enables quick and easy future enhancements without hardware changes by adding software changes. The radios also offer instant access via unit-to-unit quick call and automatic call back, and ultra-secure multi-level password programming protection.

For more information about RELM Wireless product lines call 800-821-2900 or visit

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