Communications Connection

Are Your Communications Prepared For An Emergency: 6 Questions to Ask

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Thu, Aug 25, 2011 @ 10:08 AM

This post is written by Sean Sweeney, Public Safety Communication Specialist for Telecom Communications, Inc.

First an earthquake and now a major hurricane in the Atlantic?  Are your communications prepared?  Redundant communications are a key component of emergency preparedness and without it you could find yourself using smoke signals to communicate.  This is important not only for public safety entities but also any organization dependent on communications for the safety and functionality of their employees.  However for purposes of this blog, we will be concentrating on Public Safety in this discussion.emergency storm response

Here is a list of the "Top 6 Questions" you should ask yourself so that you are prepared if the lights go out.

1- Do you have redundant communications?

Do you have radios that do not rely on repeater systems?  If so, great.  They may only work in smaller areas, but it's better than nothing. Operating in direct mode, or Simplex, is an easy way to maintain communications during a power outage without a repeater.

2- Is your radio room on generator power?

If you aren't sure, it probably isn't.  Your main base station needs to be on redundant power to maintain continuity of communications

3- Are your repeaters on battery back-up?

If you lose power, you lose your repeater system.  If it isn't on an auxiliary power system, it should be.  Even if the system is on power back-up, most repeaters go into "fail-safe" mode when a surge is detected.  Do you know how to properly reset your repeater?

4 - Do you know how long your back-up will last if the power is out for days?

Auxiliary power systems are only designed to last a few hours, 18 hours in most cases.  What is your plan if the power is out longer than this?

5- Do you have lightning protection for your antenna systems?

Most people forget about their antennas when planning on protecting their communications.  A lightning strike to the antenna system can wipe out your communications.  To  minimize the risk and damage, you should have the proper protection, such as lightning arrestors and grounding, in place for this.

6 - Does your Mutual Aid have the ability to activate you and vice versa?

If you go down, who will activate your pagers and handle radio transmissions?  Having a mutual aid agreement in place with surrounding departments and your county control points is an excellent way to ensure your communications continue.

These are not questions you should be asking yourself right now with the storm brewing, but if you haven't been thinking of these things, Telecom can help.  We have a staff of qualified engineers who can evaluate your system and get you these answers.  Arm yourself with Uninterrupted Power Supplies and redundant power supplies that transition seamlessly into your current system. 

Be prepared because the public safety is our number one priority.

To set up an appointment to analyze your communication system preparedness click here Click me

*Telecom Communications is a full-line Motorola dealer and most of the equipment mentioned above is available via the state or county contract

Photos used under creative commons from taigasylvan

Topics: motorola, two way radio, fire depatments, emergency preparedness

Assistance to Firefighters Grant: Application Period Now Open

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Fri, Aug 19, 2011 @ 15:08 PM

The annual application period for the Assistance To Firefighters Grant is now open.  This runs from August 15, 2011 until September 9, 2011.  FEMA has released their "Top 5 Tips" for this grant.  See below to read their advice.  Have any of you won a grant in previous years and have advice for others?  Comment below and let us know.  Good luck and Happy "granting".


Assistance to Firefighters Grant


With nearly 20,000 applications each year, and limited funds available, the level of competition for AFG awards is high. Help to ensure that your application stands out from the crowd and scores well during the evaluation process by following these tips:

This year, FEMA has designated High, Medium, and Low funding priorities for every eligible activity and/or item. This makes make it easier for applicants to understand the programs FEMA is able to support. Use the priority system to increase your chances of winning an award. The more consistent your funding request is with the highest priority items, as described in the FY11 AFG Program Guidance, the greater your chances of winning an award.

#2 – COMPL
The AFG Program is designed to help applicants meet state and national standards, such as those provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Requesting any item that does not result in state or national certification, or comply with recognized standards, may lower your application's evaluation score. For more information on and for access to these standards related to this year's funding priorities, visit

The AFG Program is designed to meet firefighter essential needs, and to help your department meet national standards. Applicants should request only what they must have and only what they can justify. Requesting an excessively expensive brush truck, for example, or asking for what appears to be a "wish list" item is not in your best interest and will result in a lower application score. Applicants make a critical mistake by requesting equipment with excessive or unreasonable costs.


A surprisingly large number of applications contain poorly written narratives that do not adequately define the risks in the community, the proposed solution, the financial situation of the organization, or the cost-benefit of the project. Additionally, applicants should avoid borrowing language from vendors and manufacturers. Such boilerplate language tends to be general in nature and does not describe the local need.

The Narrative must contain a clear picture of your department and its finances, your community and its need(s), as well as the project and its cost-benefit. It should be detailed and concise. Allow enough time to write a complete narrative. This is your opportunity to convince a panel of your peers that your request should be funded—take advantage of it!

We offer a variety of assistance to ensure that deserving applicants are successful:

Application Period
  • August 15, 2011 – September 9, 2011
  • All applications must be submitted no later than 5PM EST on September 9th

Learn more about AFG and start your application online at

As of August 2010, prime recipients of Federal grants are required to register in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) system. As a potential grantee you are not required to register, but you may wish to do so now in case you receive an award. CCR registration will be required if you are selected for an award.

How to register:
  1. Obtain a DUNS number from Dun and Bradstreet: If you already have a DUNS number, skip to #2.
  2. Once you have a DUNS number, register here:
    For more information on grantee registration in the CCR system, download the AFG Get Ready Guide or visit their website:

Did you know that multiple organizations serving more than one local jurisdiction can team up and submit an AFG application that will benefit the entire region? It's true—AFG supports a variety of regional projects, including providing training programs and purchasing communications and personal protective equipment. So, spread the word about AFG to your colleagues and through your professional networks! A regional project may be the right route for you.

Fire-Rescue International
August 23-27, 2011 (Exhibits: August 26 & 27)
Georgia World Congress Center
Booth 71
Workshop: Friday, 8/26/2011, 10:30-12:00pm Room B407
Session WK109 "Federal Emergency Management Agency's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program"

Thank you.




FEMA · U.S. Department of Homeland Security · Washington, DC 20472


Topics: two way radios, fire depatments, grants