There has long been much discussion surrounding the necessity for firefighters to use radios when on a call. They are crucial to communicating with individuals inside and outside the heart and heat of the fire to ensure the protection and safety of both firefighters and victims. But can they withstand the extreme heat exposure, and how hot can it get before they become ineffective or simply “too hot to handle”?
In December 2014, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released the results of a study testing the effects of high temperatures on the performance of handheld portable radios (PDF). These tests were conducted after portable radio performance problems were noted in several line-of-duty firefighter fatalities investigations by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) performance standard for firefighter portable radios states that “portable radios shall be manufactured for the environment in which they are to be used and shall be of a size and construction that allow their operation with the use of one hand.”
The ability to communicate under adverse field conditions remains a critical topic for the health and safety of all public safety. The ever-changing environment where firefighters are required to work requires continued research to keep them safe. As communications hardware solutions evolve, it is vital that we ensure they are suitable and reliable for the public safety community.
Industry experts who champion firefighter safety as well as firefighters who work on the front lines recommend that each and every firefighter be equipped with a portable radio. This simple and small device is such a vital part of the firefighter’s survival that it cannot be ignored.
The portable radio provides a lifeline to three distinct people: the incident commander, the dispatcher and every firefighter who has a radio. Having these three tiers of safety provides a firefighter who may need help the ability to reach not just one person, but a whole host of people.
Many believe the portable radio is the single-most versatile piece of equipment that a firefighter or officer can carry into a hazardous situation because they are the means for:
ATECH Fire & Security provides many different types and brands of firefighter radios and equipment.
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