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Radio use on the fireground

In this video, Gordon Graham outlines best practices for radio use to increase fireground efficiency and reduce risk

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Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. And Today’s Tip is for everyone in the fire service. Today we’re discussing radio discipline to increase fireground efficiency and reduce risk.

There’s a lot more radios on the fireground today than in years past. And that means more members listening, reacting, and sending messages. This is great when members are properly trained and practice radio discipline.

But when members with radios don’t practice radio discipline, the results can be deadly. Poor communication is cited as a common factor in LODD reports. Poor communication includes pointless chatter, yelling, using first names instead of unit numbers, failing to acknowledge transmissions, and talking over important messages.

Instead, follow your good fireground communications policy and procedure to reduce these problems. Keep fireground channels clear and stay off the channel when ordered to do so. Speak face-to-face when possible. Only communicate information that other members or incident command need to know to get the job done safely. This includes vital information like assignment completion, change in fire path, change in tactics, suppression problems, order acknowledgment, and responding to personnel accountability reports.

And when possible, take your time. Think! Does your message need to go out now? Will it have a positive impact on operations and safety?

And think beyond just talking or listening to the radio. Place your radio correctly! Make sure your strap is under your PPE, the radio is protected, and your mic is secure and easily reachable.

This reduces deadly mistakes. Ever wondered why you can’t hear any fireground radio, only to find that you mistakenly switched to another channel? Ever activate your radio’s emergency alert feature without realizing it? Ever been the subject of the dreaded “open mic”? Ever reach for your mic only to find it dragging behind you? When you secure your radio and mic properly you reduce your risk.

The fireground is an inherently risky environment. Don’t contribute to that risk by interfering with important communications or delaying a mayday. Train on and use good radio discipline to increase the chances that you and your crew go home safely.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.

Gordon Graham has been actively involved in law enforcement since 1973. He spent nearly 10 years as a very active motorcycle officer while also attending Cal State Long Beach to achieve his teaching credential, USC to do his graduate work in Safety and Systems Management with an emphasis on Risk Management, and Western State University to obtain his law degree. In 1982 he was promoted to sergeant and also admitted to the California State Bar and immediately opened his law offices in Los Angeles.