The Fire Dispatchers
Role in Communications
During a Fire Incident As the fire dispatcher operating at the radio
console position, you must monitor any and all communications between
the dispatcher and the fireground units as well as all radio traffic between
units. Many times this demands listening to more then one channel. Such
efforts require you to multitask, or do more then one thing at the same
time. It is particularly important to listen and be aware of what is happening
at the scene by listening to fireground channel conversations.
This provides an added safety feature for the firefighters. There are
times that a message was not heard on the fireground. A fire unit could
be giving a report to command, a rescue company could be looking for utility
shutoffs, or a firefighter inside the building could be trapped.
Most dispatch personnel wear headphones that reduce background noise
making listening easier. At the scene of a fire incident, firefighters
donÕt have that luxury of headphones. A fire scene with a response of
3 engines, 2 ladders, a rescue company and a chief officer could require
19 radios at the scene.
- Seven vehicle radios with cab speakers
- Five exterior speakers on the pump panels and truck turntables
- Seven portable radios (with the firefighters)
On the fireground there are many reasons that a radio message was
- The confusing of the incident, the urgency of the task (shouting,
- Firefighters speaking through an oxygen face piece (unreadable, muffled)
- Radio messages being "stepped on" (more then one unit talking at same
- Noise from the roar of the fire pumpers engines
- Noise from a firefighters tank bell going off because he is out of
- The sound of a fire alarm gong, horn, or bell sounding
- Feedback from more then one radio in same area
- Units on the wrong channel
- Radio problems (dead receiving spot, battery problems)
If a message is heard that is not answered by the unit it is intended
for, the fire alarm dispatcher should step in to insure the message reaches
its intended destination.
Example: *"Engine 5 calling Command"ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.no answer
After a short period the dispatcher should call command and say, "Dispatch
to Command".."Command answering".."Engine 5 is calling you"
"Rescue calling Rescue 100"ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉno answer After a short period the
dispatcher should call Rescue 100 and say, "Dispatch calling Rescue
100 the Rescue is calling you"
"Ladder 4 to Command, we are trapped on the second floor, rear" message
goes unansweredÉÉÉÉ After a short period the dispatch should call Command
and report that Ladder 4 was calling and reported being trapped on the
" Engine 5 to Engine 5Õs pump start the water" Message goes unanswered
"Fire Alarm to Engine 5Õs pump start the water to Engine 5Õs line acknowledge"
Any message not understood should be asked to be repeated for accuracy.