Improving LAFD Communications
Posted by Councilmember Englander on September 30, 2016 at 6:26 PM
This week, I submitted a motion requesting the City Administrative Officer and the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security report back on grants administered by the City that could be used to fund the purchase of VHF radios for the Fire Department (LAFD) to augment their current systems and to be used when working with other departments in mutual aid scenarios.
Local fire departments throughout the state often work together to fight large brush fires that cannot be effectively handled by one department alone. As a result of the need to work effectively together, in 1970 fire departments from across Southern California came together to develop the FIRESCOPE program, which is designed to provide efficient interagency resource coordination for dealing with fires and other significant emergencies that affect the entire region.
Through FIRESCOPE, departments have developed standards that ensure that each agency, regardless of size, can work together in large emergencies. The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) has been an active member of the FIRESCOPE program for many years.
When working together with other departments, communication is key. Fire departments coordinating their efforts against large brush fires must have reliable tools that enable them to communicate with other fire crews from other agencies, as well as with their commanders. In an effort to ensure good interagency communication during brush fires, FIRESCOPE has recently directed local departments to communicate on the VHF frequency band when operating in certain environments.
Currently, LAFD only provides one VHF radio per firefighting company, as it uses UHF radios for its communications. This lack of VHF radios limits the effectiveness of LAFD while working in mutual aid scenarios. While the LAFD does not want to move its communication system over to VHF, the Department does need to augment its existing platforms with VHF radios in order to enhance its ability to work with other departments during mutual aid incidences. The City should explore utilizing grant funding to purchase this equipment.
-Mitchell Englander, Chair of Public Safety Committee
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