Radio Interoperability and Automatic/Mutual Aid

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Everyday poses new issues, new ideas, new incidents, and new experiences. Roanoke City continues to offer better service to its visitors and citizens as well as those in the outlying areas.

Several companies run mutual and automatic aid outside of Roanoke City, as other departments run it into the City.

People have talked about a Metro style department in the past, however that seems to have gone by the wayside with Roanoke County building stations nearly on top of ours. I am sure the County won’t mind our personnel working out of Clearbrook as long as possible though. Eventually, the County will have to step up and hire more firefighters. I don’t want to get involved in their politics, but someone is saving the County hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by keeping their department underdeveloped.

The Metro department idea was again shown to be a figment of the imagination when the County build a brand new Administration building and 911 dispatch center. If we were even remotely thinking of merging, this would have been the start; to combine the 911 dispatch centers. It may not seem like a big deal to the individual dispatch centers or the individual Administrations but it is an issue on the street.

Case and point:
Roanoke (City) Engine 13 runs a first due in Roanoke City, Automatic aid to Roanoke County and Salem, and Mutual aid to both as well.

If Engine 13 gets a call in Salem, the officer has to:

  1. Mark in route with Roanoke City
  2. Mark out of service with Roanoke County
  3. Mark in route with Salem
  4. Switch to the correct tac channel
  5. Hope that in switching channels and radios that they didn’t miss any pertinent information.
What a mess. As it it, Engine 13 has to mark in and out of service with Roanoke County any time we get a City call. We have been laughing at Salem for having to do that for years with the City. I guess what goes around comes around.

Basically, I don’t see much issue with running Mutual Aid. I don’t know of any firefighters who wont answer the call of duty. The problem I have with it is covering for other departments shortfalls. Salem could probably stand to hire a few more firefighters to fully staff the trucks they have. Roanoke County…where do I begin. I don’t see any reason why the County doesn’t have 24 hour Fire and EMS coverage at every station guaranteed.

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