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Communications & Technology in the Fire and Emergency Service

This issue of On Scene provides IAFC members with an update on communications-related issues that are currently affecting the fire and emergency service or will affect it in the future. The IAFC Communications Committee, composed of fire service representatives and adjunct members representing the communications industry, does the following:

  • Analyzes current communications issues for their impact on the fire and emergency service
  • Represents the fire and emergency service in public-safety communications organizations, such as the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council and SAFECOM, the emergency communications program of DHS’s Office of Emergency Communications
  • Reviews and comments on proposed NFPA and other standards impacting communications
  • Reviews legislative and rule proposals from Congress and the FCC

This year, there is no shortage of issues affecting fire and emergency service communications:

  • The impending narrowband deadline of January 1, 2013
  • The D block spectrum and Long Term Evolution issues, which promise to be the long-term future of emergency services communications
  • The proposed changes in the Factory Mutual intrinsically safe equipment standard
  • The National Emergency Communications Plan
  • Communications Unit Leader training and certification
  • IMSA/IAFC frequency coordination
  • Potential GPS interference from the LightSquared national broadband system
  • The Public Safety Communications Research program housed in the Department of Commerce, which provides research, development, testing and evaluation to foster nationwide first-responder communications interoperability

These issues and programs will impact public-safety communications in general and specifically fire and emergency service communications in the near and long term. The IAFC Communications Committee wishes to thank the authors that contributed their time and expertise to provide this information to the IAFC membership.

William S. Nelson, EFO, CFO, is chief of the Troy (Mich.) Fire Department and chair of the IAFC Communications Committee.

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