Link – Fire Station Orange Go-Kits

Nice to see that someone, somewhere, at some level of bureacracy, had the presence of mind to greenlight this:

Each Portland Fire & Rescue fire station has an “orange go-kit”: a 55-watt Icom IC-2100H and a roof-mounted antenna. NET volunteers are permitted to use this equipment if they have a valid FCC amateur radio license. The kit CANNOT leave the fire station, and so cannot be checked out; but, a volunteer can visit a fire station and use the radio there.

I recall years ago when the LDS church was encouraging a similar plan amongst their membership.

8 thoughts on “Link – Fire Station Orange Go-Kits

  1. Nice to see some one with a few brains in charge. I would bet that they are not in the job for long, I find that people who can do the job never are. I can not see that happen here in the UK. At the 7/7 London bombing the emergency services found out that all their radios would not work together. No one had bothered to check.

  2. I’m not a coms guy, so forgive the torrent of newbie questions, but what exactly is the point here?

    If it can’t leave the station, why does it need a magnetic roof antenna? If you need an FCC license to operate it, why is it for emergency purposes only–can’t a licensed operator use a HAM radio any time he wants from his home?

    What type of emergencies is this really meant for? Like, under what circumstances has the system broken down to the point that there’s no cell service, but still enough order to ensure only licensed operators open this case but never take it outside?

    So many questions.

    • Puerto Rico is a perfect example why this needed. No power and no cell towers mean conventional comms don’t work. If needed a magnetic roof antenna can be mounted on a vehicle or even on a roof as needed. I’m assuming it’s not allowed to leave the station in the meantime so it doesn’t disappear. However, it should still have local repeater fregs and common simplex fregs programmed in and someone with the skill to use it. Great idea though.

    • A magnetic mount antenna works well on any metallic surface. I ran a mag-mount on top of a file cabinet in my home for years, it worked fine. I also set up a MARS station at Camp Roberts, California with a (possibly the same) mag mount and a lot of coax mounted on the roof vent of the barracks we were in…..Considering the kit has 200′ of coax, they may be planning something similar.

      The fire station includes the area around it: Not just the building. The radio has a DC power plug (cigarette plug) as well as a power supply if AC power is available. Good planning!

      As far as why a mag-mount and not a fixed antenna, cost is one answer. Another is what happens if the fire station has structural damage? Being in an orange Pelican (or similar) case it will likely survive even a collapsed building.

      Letting neighborhood hams come in and operate it during a disaster relieves the FD of health and welfare traffic….allows interfacing with other responders. Provides a locally central place for information interchange. And if the Portland FD is on a trunked system, gives them a robust comm link after their trunked radios crash and burn.

      Finally, why not get some training and a ham ticket? It’s not hard, and not expensive and if you live in Portland you can even go and use their radio…

  3. Peter,

    I think the idea is that licensed local HAMs can come on out to the station and train on/get familiar with this particular radio. That way, in a disaster of emergency, when it is taken out into the field, a volunteer can man it, because they are already familiar with it.

    The part about it not leaving the station is that they won’t loan it out for training, lest it grow legs, not that it will never leave the station in an actual call out.

    I think it is a great idea.

  4. Great idea. I’m sure Puerto Rico could have benefited from having a system like this, with the cell & land lines nearly wiped out, but with the corruption endemic down there (we’re talking almost Mexico levels) they likely would have been stolen a long time ago.

  5. Looked up the IC-2100H radio. Was only about 140 dollars new then (its a discontinued model now).

    I own several flavors of Beofeng handhelds and the first one I got was the venerable UV-5R. Got it for 35 dollars and free shipping direct from the China (Grey) market.

    For what I paid, and what i got, it is an amazing UHF/VHF rig. Its not durable for rough treatment at all, but a cheap, starter HAM radio. At that price buying a few and rotating them and extra battery packs in GO bags is a no brainer. If it gets lost/stolen/destroyed your not out much.

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