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Entries » Blog » Fire Ground Communications – Critical to Efficiency and Safety Author: Richard Russell

Fire Ground Communications – Critical to Efficiency and Safety Author: Richard Russell

Created Nov 10 2016, 6:00 AM by Paul Jeffs

Fire and Rescue Services have unique communication requirements that are both vital to their mission and the safety of their users. They are some of the only emergency services workers who face the harshest environments and challenges of extreme heat, low visibility, fireproof suits, heavy boots, thick gloves, breathing masks, helmets and not forgetting heavy air tanks, all while communicating in buildings. These factors make up one of the most challenging environments for effective communications. Throughout the years, two-way radios and accessories have addressed these challenges but the solutions are continuing to improve.

I’ve found that the key to having the most reliable and safe communications (reliable coverage, audio and energy) is knowing that your radio and its accessories have been optimised together.

If the entire system has been tested and proven, you can be sure that you will avoid issues commonly found in DIY (do-it-yourself) configurations – such as interference, radiated emissions, battery drain etc.

These are the key factors we take into account when we are designing and testing radios and their accessories specifically for the Fire and Rescue Services....

Fire Rescue Services need maximum RF performance to penetrate brick, concrete and steel reinforced buildings. Motorola Solutions latest radio models have been enhanced for maximum Transmit power while increasing Receiver sensitivity to extend the range of the radio for fire ground use. Moreover, it’s important that there is no interference caused by incompatible accessories, not all manufacturers fully understand this as well as Motorola Solutions does...we design the radio and accessory as a system for this reason.

Clear and intelligible audio is a priority for Fire and Rescue Services because their radio (and accessories) are their lifeline when they’re responding to an incident. They need to hear and be heard, especially when they’re wearing a helmet and breathing mask. We partner with safety equipment providers such as Dräger, MSA Safety and others to integrate our radios with their secondary audio accessories. We then optimise the whole system together to ensure there are no surprises when you put them to use in the field. Specifically designed for Fire Rescue Services, we have a new Omni Directional IMPRES™ remote speaker microphones (RSMs) with integrated Nexus socket, for both TETRA and MOTOTRBO™ DMR radios. Easily operated with gloved hand, it allows users wearing breathing mask or bone-conduction microphone can plug directly into the RSM which connects to the radio, ensuring the best and consistent audio quality. If the user is responding to an incident where their helmet/breathing mask isn’t needed, they still have the convenience of using the PTT button on the Omni Directional IMPRES RSM, without having to take their radio out of the pocket or off a belt clip, saving the radio from being dropped and damaged.


There is a saying, your radio is only as good as the battery that powers it…Battery life and charger reliability is one of the most important factors in a radio. We all know the feeling having an old smart phone that says it’s 100% charged and if you use it for 30 minutes and it’s already down to 10%. This is not acceptable in such a critical environment as Fire Rescue Services. Batteries & Chargers need to work as a complete system with the radio to optimise the charge process and overall battery life. Motorola Solutions advanced IMPRES energy solution consists of IMPRES batteries and IMPRES chargers, automatically optimising the charge process. These extend the battery life by 43% (150 more charge cycles) compared to standard batteries. This means less batteries over the life of the radio; more environmentally friendly.

Managing battery assets can be a big challenge, but Motorola Solutions engineers have thought of this and developed IMPRES Battery Fleet Management software which extracts factual information from IMPRES batteries to present the vital signs - Key Performance Indicators...The Software works with the batteries and chargers via a simple user interface that displays exactly how many charge cycles the batteries have had, providing asset managers simple tools to plan for replacement batteries in advance. This eliminates the guesswork and saves money by buying only the correct quantity of replacements!

Motorola Solutions is very serious when it comes to the subject of regulatory compliance - it’s a sign of a high quality solution. As of June 2017, radios and their accessories intended for use together will need to be approved as a system to achieve regulatory compliance by law in the European Union member states, ensuring they perform safely and as expected.

The previous R&TTE Directive currently transitioning to the Radio Equipment Directive by June 13th 2017 mandates that all stages of the route to market (from manufacturer, distributor, Reseller and end-user) must be able to demonstrate regulatory compliance of their communication solution. Motorola Solutions pre-empts this requirement with Declaration of Conformity Documents for each radio family, including all approved accessories sold for use as a system, so whether you’re a distributor, reseller or end-user, you can be sure the system you’re buying from Motorola Solutions is fully compliant, safe and can be relied upon.


Richard Russell is Product Specialist for DMR, TETRA and LTE Devices & Accessories

Richard is on LinkedIn

Follow @MotSolsEMEA on Twitter and look out for #ThinkPublicSafety.


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