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A New Day For Public-Safety Frequency Coordination

Since 1986, the Federal Communications Commission has required almost all applications for dispatch radio licenses to be examined by certified frequency coordinating committees before being submitted to them. These committees ensure the application forms are filled out correctly and frequently select the frequencies for new or modified radio systems.

For public-safety channels, the FCC certified four coordinating committees, including the International Municipal Signal Association/International Association of Fire Chiefs (IMSA/IAFC) and the Forestry Conservation Communications Association (FCCA). All four committees can certify any public-safety channel, but each organization has primary responsibility over its own pool.

IMSA/IAFC is the primary coordinator for fire and EMS channels. FCCA has primary responsibility for forestry-conservation pool frequencies, which support wildland-fire suppression.

Throughout the years, IMSA/IAFC and FCCA have maintained separate coordination activities even though applicants for new channels were often the same for each organization. Particularly east of the Mississippi River, municipal firefighters are also those who fight wildland fires.

To simplify the coordination process for these entities, IMSA/IAFC and FCCA have combined their frequency coordination work. Each association will retain its own identity for representation and training of its constituents, but they will combine their frequency coordination activities in a new nonprofit corporation named the Public Safety Communications Associates (PSCA). PSCA will have its headquarters at 122 Baltimore St., Gettysburg, Pa., very near the FCC’s licensing office.

IMSA/IAFC and FCCA believe that by combining their efforts, they can provide the most rapid and cost-effective frequency-coordination services for the entire public-safety community. While PSCA will certainly benefit the fire, EMS and forestry conservation communities, its services will also be available to any public-safety applicant, be it police, highway-maintenance organizations or local government in general.

PSCA will also offer microwave coordination, a service not offered by other public-safety frequency coordinators. PSCA’s new general manager will be Ralph Haller, well known to many from his days at the FCC as chief of the Private Radio Bureau and for his continuing efforts at FCCA to support public-safety communications.

IMSA and IAFC’s frequency-coordination services have been used by those involved in fire suppression and EMS services for over 25 years. Applications can still be entered electronically at SiteSafe on the IMSA website.

PSCA will be using the services of FreqEasy LLC for application processing. Applications can be entered directly into FreqEasy. Applicants can register immediately and submit applications directly to the coordination staff.

The new partnership became effective on March 12. For more information, call 717-338-1505 (FCCA) or 717-398-0822 (IMSA/IAFC), or PSCA toll-free at 855-803-1465. Inquiries can also be directed to Info@frequencycoordination.org.

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