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Factors to be considered during radio procurement

Fire and rescue services should consider compatibility issues when procuring digital radio equipment including repeaters, breathing apparatus (BA) and vehicle-mounted devices. They should also ensure that any standard or specification used by the manufacturer is fully understood and tested.

A 2017 survey identified that all fire and rescue services currently operating digital radios have adopted the Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) Tier II standard. For more information on DMR Tier II see Appendix A.

Fire and rescue services need to consider the benefit of retaining the intraoperability provided by the existing analogue fireground radio channels when migrating to digital fireground radios. It is important that the following steps are considered where practical:

  • Procure digital radios that can operate in both analogue and digital modes
  • Configure analogue interoperability channels, to enable fireground voice communications with fire and rescue services that have analogue-only radios
  • Clearly identify the suitable analogue fallback channels
  • Consider any neighbouring fire and rescue service’s existing fireground radio configurations
  • Ensure that the radio configuration file is compatible with neighbouring services already using digital radio
  • Ensure the configuration file setting best reflects regional dialects and accents

The Fire Service Consortium has a framework agreement for purchasing fireground radios. See The consortium: Fire and rescue