With over thirty-five public safety agencies sharing a radio system for the first time, there is a high potential for confusion without standardizing how we communicate.
Plain language for radio communications is a key component of interoperability – agencies can only begin to work together if they are all speaking the same language.
– Department of Homeland Security
BRICS Policy 3.02 “Plain Language and NIMS Compliance” governs the development and use of plain language and standardized terminology on our system.
The Advisory Board is forming a five-person Plain Language Committee (PLC). The PLC consists of:
one law enforcement representative, to be appointed by the Butler County Police Chief’s Association
one fire / EMS represenative, to be appointed by the Butler County Fire Chief’s Association
one Communications Center representative, to be appointed by the PSAP committee
one radio representative from the BCSO Communications Division; and
one person representing Emergency Management and the interests of other disciplines, to be appointed by the Director of the Butler County Emergency Management Agency
The Advisory Board will request the formation of a standing communications-focused committee within the Butler County Police Chief’s Association and the Butler County Fire Chief’s Association. It will also request the 911 Planning Committee form a standing sub-committee consisting of one representative from each primary and secondary PSAP. Other disciplines using BRICS (e.g. public works, public health) may form similar committees to make recommendations specific to their discipline.
These committees will each form a draft list of standardized terminology specific to their discipline and submit them through their representative on the PLC.
The PLC is charged with integrating lists submitted from all disciplines into a cohesive, multi-discipline terminology list that will accompany BRICS Policy 3.03 as Appendix A. When the list has been developed and approved, it will be disseminated and included on this website.
In order to comply with National Incident Management System best practices, plain language is required on all common talkgroups of the Butler Regional Interoperable Communications System.
A common talkgroup is any talkgroup provided to multiple agencies for interoperability. Some examples include firegrounds, area wides, mutual aids, BC Calling and inter-PSAP talkgroups.
Plain language is recommended but not required on local agency talkgroups. Local talkgroups include main dispatch and local operational talkgroups, like LE OPS 2.
BRICS recommends that local agencies adopt plain language on all local operational and dispatch talkgroups. In stressful sitautions, people fall back on their training. Responders will find some difficulty in switching from coded language during routine situations and plain language during emergencies requiring mutual aid.
Developing a plain language policy requires more than the elimination of signals or codes; it requires standardization of plain language. You may find that several terms are used interchangably to mean the same thing. Also, a single term may mean different things to different people or agencies.
“Disregard” might mean disregard the message to one person and cancel the response to another. “Clear” might mean the scene is secure to one law enforcement agency and lead a fire agency to believe they should clear from the scene. Agencies need to discuss, both internally and with their neighbors, how they can standardize terms across agencies and disciplines.
Plain Language Guide (PDF)
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has published a document called “Making the Transition from Ten Codes to Plain Language” to guide your agency through the process of developing a plain language plan.