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Author Topic: UV-5R FOR PART 90 FIRE DEPT USAGE.  (Read 116114 times)

Posts: 14

« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2013, 01:39:42 PM »

our local shop rate is at $60.00 per hour.
would treat it like stuff from wally world.  salvage what you can, and scrap the rest
i have a second phone, and anything i can't patch up will go in the scrap pile

73  jim  kf8sj

Posts: 69

« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2013, 06:27:11 AM »

 I was in the fire service for 23 years, and I wouldn't entertain the thought of using those radios for operations. They just aren't designed to take the abuse in my opinion. I appreciate the budgetary constraints, but when the s**t hits the fan and somebody's $100 radio craps out, who is going to accept responsibility? There are many grants available to aid in equipment purchases.


Posts: 6252

« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2013, 08:48:09 AM »

...At to days shop labor rates of $175 per hour you will not save any money buying a more expensive radio thinking you wil be able to repair the unit. You only buy specifications and features.

I have to disagree with that--vehemently.  There is a difference between the cheaper and the higher price radios--and it isn't only the name or the features.  It is the amount of abuse that the radios themselves will take--including the quality and the stress tolerances of the components in them.  Put one of the Chinese HTS up against a HT specifically made for rough duty useage and the Chinese brand unit will fail faster every time.  

If it fails in the midst of a fire scene because of high temperatures and stress, would you want to be the one responsible for recommending it?
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 08:51:33 AM by K1CJS » Logged

Posts: 2100

« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2013, 01:27:37 PM »

  As the OP stated "not a high response house" as in a large town or city,only a small VFD (1-2 call outs a month mostly grass fires) high end and rugged radios that we all would like to have are not necessarily needed or cost effective for relatively small scale VFD operations.

Posts: 223


« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2013, 05:35:00 PM »

  As the OP stated "not a high response house" as in a large town or city,only a small VFD (1-2 call outs a month mostly grass fires) high end and rugged radios that we all would like to have are not necessarily needed or cost effective for relatively small scale VFD operations.

That is like arguing that a $500 breathing apparatus off EBay with who-knows-what pedigree is OK for a small VFD as opposed to a new or factory-refurbished apparatus.  When you are risking life and limb in an atmosphere which is Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health, "good enough for vollie use" isn't good enough! 

For example, cheap PTT switches can cause problems like "stuck mike" on a frequency being used for fireground operations -- a serious problem.



Posts: 30

« Reply #20 on: March 30, 2013, 08:01:28 PM »

You need to purchase a radio that satisfies the limits of your license. But be aware that the most of the cheap ones you have been looking at do not. Not only that, most of these cheap (not merely inexpensive) units are not well engineered and may put peoples lives at risk. Which price are you willing to pay?

Posts: 6252

« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2013, 06:49:13 AM »

 As the OP stated "not a high response house" as in a large town or city,only a small VFD (1-2 call outs a month mostly grass fires) high end and rugged radios that we all would like to have are not necessarily needed or cost effective for relatively small scale VFD operations.

And just suppose that they DID have a structure fire--and one of those cheap units DID fail when needed--and there was a fatal incident?  Are the savings garnered by getting those low priced units going to be worth it then?  What would YOU tell the family of the deceased firefighter?

Any occupation where life-safety of the worker is an issue demands the best equipment that is available.  Mind you, I said best, not highest priced.  Would you climb a tower with a body harness made in China and sold by Wal-Mart??? 
« Last Edit: March 31, 2013, 06:53:31 AM by K1CJS » Logged

Posts: 200

« Reply #22 on: March 31, 2013, 08:29:41 AM »

Beyond the life safety argument that is being posed here, and it's a good argument.  The whole part 90 thing needs to be taken into account as well.  These radio's may have the ability to be programmed to part 90 frequencies and operate there.  But are they truely part 90 by FCC regulation?  The FCC emissions designator for those radios is 9K10F3E for part 90 acceptance.  Now, here's the hang, EVERY other radio that I know of that's part 90 and the typical designator for FCC licenses in the public safety pool is 11K0F3E or 11K3F3E.  Now what does all that mean?  It means that the broadcast deviation of these radios does NOT match the other radios, it's a narrower bandwidth.  So these radios will have low audio when talking to a Kenwood, Motorola or other 11K radio.  It may or may not have an effect on the received audio on these radios, but the transmit will be lower.  In addition, as may of you know as the FCC mandate occurred and everyone went to narrow band communications, there was a loss of range on the radios.  These radios are of a narrower bandwidth and will have even less range than other radios that are 11KF3E.  Also, the FCC part 90 power levels on these radios on VHF are 1.3 watts.  most if not all standard part 90 radios are 3 to 5 watts.  So again the range is affected by not only the bandwidth of the radio, but the legal transmit power level is in play here as well to limit the radios range. The last hurdle to cross is the fact that the emission designator of the radios MUST appear on the FCC license.  So if your license says 11K0F3E or 11K3F3E (which it should) and you are running radios that are 9K10F3E you are operating illegally.  You must modify your FCC license and add the emission designator to it.  Now, it's to be determined by you if the FCC will even allow that emission designator in the public safety pool.  If they don't then game over, you can't use the radios legally. 
Bear this in mind, we all know that we can clip a wire or hold down some buttons on most ham transceiver and get them to TX out of band and talk on the fire and police frequencies.  Doing so is illegal so we don't.  The radios aren't type accepted to operate on those frequencies, even if they are capable of doing so. The same holds true here, everything must be in order with licensing, programmed power levels and the like for these radios to be legal.  It's not just simply buy the radios and plug in the frequencies.  FCC fines for operating out of compliance are pretty stiff to the point that if you get caught and fined, you could have bought the $3000 radios for everyone and still saved money.   In truth, by the time you pay a radio guy, and the FCC coordinator for all their services to make these radios truly legal, you could have bought good used part Motorola radios off eBay, or new Kenwood or Icoms.

Posts: 729

« Reply #23 on: March 31, 2013, 09:04:38 AM »

I've got a UV5, it is well worth the "short" money, but don't drop it, even once.  I don't think the unit is "type accepted" for anything but ham radio, and that didn't happen until after a whole bunch were sold here. 

Posts: 4

« Reply #24 on: April 01, 2013, 06:44:07 AM »

I don’t want for this to turn into a diatribe but I may have some pertinent insight and I’ll stay off my soapbox.  As a Capt on my FD (and our dept radio guy) and an owner of a wouxun for ham use, I'll make these comments.

Will these radios do as you desire? Kinda.  Is it your best plan? Probably not.  There are some limitations of the radios that may detract from your plan.

•   These radios are not intrinsically safe.
•   They are not constructed for use in an IDLH environment
•   There are no paging protocols within the radio such as 2 tone decode, fleet sync, MDC, etc.
•   No safety options such as lone worker/man down, emergency, GPS
•   These radios are not constructed for use with a gloved hand; IMHO the PTT button and knobs are way too small for that.
•   These radios do not have the speaker volume to support two-way communications around operating machinery such as pump panel, saws, etc.  I have not tested these with loud background noise to see what background noise they capture (i.e. can the person on the other side of the radio hear you over the noise?)
•   The OEM lapel mic is even worse for volume.  I have not tried any third party lapel mic.  (my Kenwood lapel mic for the TK-5210 has diversity microphones (2) and there is even a new one out with built in DSP.)

Other comments:
•   If you choose to go this route, use a US- based dealer like and speak with them on options. Most of what you describe is doable.  DO NOT rely upon model numbers as there have been changes in the past (firmware and hardware) without model number changes.
•   Make sure that they will function to your needs such as to the new narrowbanding rules and frequency steps to match your current and future needs
•   These are decent ham radios that can function well for parades, search and rescue, EMS, details and other community events, etc.  I doubt they would stand up to the abuse, water, dust, dirt, moisture, etc that is part of our job for very long.
•   Consider them disposable.  I don’t believe that there is any mechanism for support or repair that makes sense for these radios.
•   These may not support your requirements as a pager.  Pagers (Motorola, Swissphone, Apollo, USA Alert, etc.) are built far more durable than this radio.  Yes, you are looking at ~$400 for pager and charger but 10 years out of a pager is expected – probably not so for this radio.
•   I’d personally be looking at something like the Kenwood TK-2180 or TK-290 radios (I’m an admitted fan of KW).  These have the options and are more durable (knobs are a bit small tho)

And you didn't ask for it but here goes:
•   Other posters have noted that there are many grant programs out there.  How grants fit into your department, mutual aid compact, county, or state master plan(s) is outside of this conversation but I’d be picking up the phone and calling around and see what these other groups have in their plan (don’t forget Emerg Management).  As an example, NH’s Interoperability Plan was managed by State Police and we (police, fire, EMS) received “free” radios from that grant a decade ago.  I can now purchase new radios off the state plan at *very* good pricing.
•   Call your elected local, state and federal officials.  Start being the squeaky wheel.  I know for certain that this works and it doesn’t sound like you need much, “I need $9,500 for the safety of my firefighters…”.  This message goes a long way.
•   Since there are gobs of agencies that are spending what seems like millions of dollars on new radio systems, you can find very good quality used radios from reputable dealers (or even reach out to the agency directly). Partner with a radio shop that can give you guidance so you’re not picking up someone else’s problems.
•   Start someplace and build upon a plan.  It’s amazing how many departments that I know that go to voting with a 10 year/$50,000 plan, only to be turned down, but ignored the ability to spend $5,000 year for 10 years. (maybe not your scale but you get the gist).

That’s all.  I’m sure I’ll be corrected if I misstated something but I think you have gotten good information so far.  Reach out if you need anything else.


Posts: 49

« Reply #25 on: April 03, 2013, 09:58:29 AM »

In the days when I had to worry about such things, it was my belief that you did not want field personnel with tunable radios. Someone playing with the VFO or changing tones could leave the radio unable to communicate. Also, other agencies don't enjoy people popping up on their repeaters without permission no matter how well intentioned the user. If the ability to easily change the settings is there, they will get changed and not necessarily back to the way they were before.

I love the Baofeng UV-5R and find it becoming my carry radio for ham because I can afford to misplace it. But there is absolutely no way I would consider it for public safety use. This is especially true due to Baofeng's sketchy quality control.

I agree with the others who said there is plenty of good used gear out there at affordable prices.

Posts: 6252

« Reply #26 on: April 04, 2013, 04:42:45 AM »

In the days when I had to worry about such things, it was my belief that you did not want field personnel with tunable radios. Someone playing with the VFO or changing tones could leave the radio unable to communicate.......If the ability to easily change the settings is there, they will get changed and not necessarily back to the way they were before....

That wasn't only a belief, it was tha law--and still is, for exactly the reason that was stated.  For some of those so-called 'emcomm professionals,' the ability to use a radio locked to their frequency and its specifications was as natural as breathing, but if many (not all) of them were to be handed a radio able to be adjusted more than the switching of set frequencies along with volume and squelch, they would be hopelessly lost.  Some would be lost just switching frequencies!

Posts: 7

« Reply #27 on: April 05, 2013, 11:27:07 AM »

get a better radio that can stand up to the work. anyways if your going to save
the city the money the higher ups will keep that money and tell the taxpayer
they paid $ 5000 per radio. better not go cheap remember it will take 10 more
years so they can get you another set. good luck my friend

Posts: 534

« Reply #28 on: April 05, 2013, 02:42:46 PM »

I don't recommend these radios for 'carry during duty' use.... but if off duty people wanted a spare to carry in the glove box, give to the wife to listen, etc... not so bad. As to Baofeng and 'no VFO' radios... they make them. BF-888S & BF-666S are two UHF models for instance. I couldn't find one for VHF, but they may exist. Anyway, once programmed, the knob changes channels, but not VFO, AFAIK.

That said, as a former EMS worker in the 80s... there were times we were lucky to HAVE an HT. And no crew ever had more than one. So on scene, if one was in the house and the guy with the HT on his belt ran outside to get something, we were out of touch... I'd have been fine with a $50 chinese radio, because it was better than yelling. I can also think of numerous times when off duty that I could have been of great help. Because technically you were never 'off duty'... If employed you were on 24/7/365 'disaster call up'.

As always... your mileage may vary...  Grin

Posts: 2645


« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2013, 09:03:35 AM »

There is a very good reason for getting the higher priced radios for life safety usage such as a fire department.  I wouldn't want to have to rely on one of those Chinese made things that may be marginal at best if I were in the middle of a fire and needed help--which is what may just happen to a volunteer firefighter.  A little too much stress (dropping, bumping, heat, etc.) and that unit will most likely crap out--something that would never happen to a real public service type radio.  Likewise, I wouldn't want to have to rely on typical HTs from the big three--most simply aren't rugged enough for such rough usage.

I'm not trying to find fault with your attempting to save money, but you do have other alternatives.  How about trying to find used equipment actually made for rugged use by a fire dept.  Yes, it would take some effort, but I'm willing to bet that you could find that equipment--radios that you can REALLY rely on--for cheaper than getting that Chinese stuff.  You may even be able to get the radios donated to your department by a larger municipal fire/public service department--you would just have to pay for the reprogramming.  Either that or you could get a grant from a charitable foundation or even your state to get the real thing--brand new.

I agree 100%. I think I would much rather find some sort of refurbished radio that is designed to take the abuse rather than a $100 radio that might break if you drop it from a few feet. I've seen motorola radios that have taken a drop off a few stories and despite a craked case, the radio still worked as intended. A drop like that would have shattered a radio not designed for that abuse (don't ask me how I know...). I'd trust my life with a radio that is designed for public service.

Are there other options out there? Can you find good working or refurbished radios that are designed with public service in mind?
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