As fire and EMS agencies have been reprogrammed over the last several months, there have been a few changes.
Encryption on FD OPS 2 and 3
SO FD OPS2 and SO FD OPS3, which are common to all fire and EMS agencies dispatched by 9COM, were switched from clear to secure (encrypted).
Previously, 9COM fire and EMS agencies did not have a readily accessible talkgroup to share confidential information with a dispatcher (e.g. door codes, hidden key locations, a death notification). SO FD OPS2 will now allow units to exchange that type of information with the dispatcher. The county’s other dispatch centers are also making this change for their fire agencies.
Police / Sheriff/ Fire/ EMS Interoperability
All 9COM public safety templates now have a common talkgroup, referred to as Public Safety Ops 4. On a smaller incident, where a Mutual Aid talkgroup or TAC talkgroup might not be assigned, the dispatcher can easily give a combination of law enforcement and fire/EMS users a place to securely communicate without leaving their home zone.
Local Government Talkgroup
The local government talkgroup, which was previously located in Zone A, has been relocated to the third zone (which is temporarily Zone 3 instead of Zone C). We realize that this will be a challenge during the next few weeks, because it will require the use of the zone soft key, rather than switches and knobs on the top of a portable radio.
Once we make the switch to the new talkgroups in September, this talkgroup will be located in Zone C, Channel 4. It can easily be switched to using the A-B-C zone switch and channel knob on the top of a portable radio.
As you can see from the above comparison, there are a number of name changes that are required to fit into a statewide naming scheme once our system interconnects with MARCS. Many of these will be explained in an upcoming post.
The most noticeable change, and the one that applies across all BRICS talkgroups, is the prefix of our county number, 09. These two required characters shortened the length of the space we had for naming, which forced some other changes.
For example, using the above:
- 09-9F OPS2 is the equivalent of SO FD OPS2, where 09 means it’s a BRICS talkgroup, and 9F means it’s a 9COM fire/EMS talkgroup.
- 09-10 WIDE is the equivalent of RO GOV 4, where 10 now stands for Ross Township, and WIDE indicates that it is a township-wide or area-wide talkgroup. It appears in all Ross Township radios for routine communication between any township employees.
Coordination and Talkgroup Assignments
Effective immediately, SO FD OPS3 (and the future 09-9F OPS3) are available for coordination and unit-to-unit communication between 9COM fire and EMS units. It does not require assignment by a dispatcher (meaning you can switch to and use it without seeking permission), and it will not be actively monitored by a dispatcher (meaning you shouldn’t call for and expect a response from a dispatcher on that talkgroup).
Remember: SO FD OPS3 and local government talkgroups are not a replacement for an incident talkgroup; just another tool that is available. If you want to do your incident-related coordination and unit-to-unit communication on the fireground or tactical talkgroup. you can continue to do so.
SO FD OPS2 (and the future 09-9F OPS2) will continue to be assigned by a dispatcher based on need. The public safety talkgroup (now SO PS OPS4 and soon to be 09-9P OPS4) will also be assigned by a dispatcher.
When requesting a talkgroup (outside of using OPS3), it’s important to include the who or what, and not necessarily the how. We often have units request a particular type of talkgroup, or a specific talkgroup, rather than telling us what they need. What you ask for might not always be what you need, or the particular talkgroup you asked for might not be available. For example:
- If you need a talkgroup for hydrant testing, do just that: “requesting a talkgroup for hydrant testing.” You might get OPS2, a fireground or a tactical talkgroup.
- If you and the police on the scene need to talk, tell the dispatcher: “requesting a talkgroup with the police officer on the scene.” OPS4 will be the logical first choice, but if it’s already in use, you may switch to a tactical talkgroup.
- If you need to share confidential information with the dispatcher on a secure (encrypted) talkgroup, ask: “requesting a secure talkgroup with 9COM”. The dispatcher may have you switch to OPS2, 3 or 4 depending on availability.