Communications Connection

3 Key Factors for Effective Interoperability

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Mon, Jan 16, 2012 @ 17:01 PM


Mutualink, a company specializing in creating interoperable communities that are, at an instant, capable of sharing voice, text, radio, video, data and telephone communications in a secure environment, has published a knowledge brief discussing three key factors for effective interoperability.  All of those involved in an incident, whether thay are field first responders, dispatch personnel, or crisis managers, must be ready at a moment's notice to respond: not just react.  Effective communications allowing real-time collaboration is the most fundamental element in emergency situations.  According to Mutualink, a successful system must be simple, flexible and familiar.

1. Simple - Any system must be very easy to use and intuitive.

2. Flexible - Every incident is different and requires different responses.

3. Familiar - In time-critical situations, all users must be able to communicate and then collaborate with methods that are second-nature to them.

To read their complete knowledge brief and hear about a real world working example click here

For more information on Mutualink click here


Topics: education, mutualink, fire depatments, emergency preparedness, interoperability, police departments, public safety

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

Giving Back with The Terry Farrell Firefighter's Fund

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Thu, Jul 21, 2011 @ 12:07 PM

terry farrell fund banner resized 600

"We get by with a little help from our friends." Paul McCartney and John Lennon sure knew what they were talking about when they wrote this.  There comes a time when even the most self-sufficient of folks need some help.  Thank goodness there are organizations and people willing to lend a hand.  Terry Farrell was one of these people.

Terry was a dedicated member of the FDNY as well as the Hicksville and Dix Hills Fire Departments.  Although I have never met Terry, I feel like I know him from reading about his tireless work helping people through the fire departments to his donation of bone marrow to a little girl suffering from T-cell lymphoma.  Unfortunately, I will never have the opportunity to meet Terry.  He was one of the 343 FDNY members who perished in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.  I have however had the opportunity to meet his brother Brian Farrell.

As the marketing coordinator for Telecom Communications, Inc., a leading Motorola dealer, I was searching for a charity that we could support.  There are so many worthy causes around but we wanted something personal to us and that relates to our customers.  I reached out to some firefighter friends and asked them a simple question.  "If we want to work with a charity that helps firefighters, what do you think is best?"  100% of the people responded to me in the same way "That's a no-brainer, the Terry Farrell Fund."  I figured they all couldn't be wrong so I did some research and reached out to the fund.  When I met with Brian Farrell and listened to him speak about Terry and the fund, it didn't take long to convince me.  His passion and enthusiasm to carry on with the spirit that his brother embodied and to continue his work in helping people was intoxicating.  I am proud to say that Telecom is now the communications sponsor of the Terry Farrell Firefighter's Fund.

The Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund was established in 2002 as a 501c3 exempt organization to assist the firefighters across the nation with professional, educational and personal needs.  They assist fire departments with the purchase of needed equipment, assist firefighters and their families during times of medical emergencies, provide scholarships for children of firefighters and give needed support to returning combat troops and their families in the form of medical grants.  The fund also receives donations of surplus fire service equipment from departments on Long Island to supply to rural departments that do not have the tax base to support the purchase of new equipment.  Along with all of this, the Terry Fund also sets up and sponsors blood and bone marrow collections and provides cardiac defibrillators to educational institutions showing need.  All of this can be done because of volunteers and sponsors.

The fund which has grown exponentially and now has 9 chapters nationwide has no paid staff and operates on a limited budget of 1-3%.  They try hard to never refuse any request for aid.  So, I encourage you to reach out and lend a hand to this wonderful organization.  We did.

For more information check out their website


Topics: sponsorship, fire depatments, giving back

Interoperability and Narrowbanding for First Responders

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Fri, Jun 24, 2011 @ 12:06 PM

Fire Interoperability SceneThis is a guest post by Sean Sweeney.  Sean is the Public Safety Communications Specialist for Telecom Communications and will be writing periodically about issues pertaining to the Public Safety market, in particular the Fire Market.

Hello, my name is Sean Sweeney and I just started with Telecom Communications, Inc.  Previously, I have worked for the City of New York working on Citywide Interoperability projects and coordinated with many agencies.  I have also worked on local projects in my home fire department in Central Islip, Long Island. 

A lot of first responders I talk to think that communications in the city are very different than out here on Long Island.  They think that systems and processes are too complex to be used in Nassau and Suffolk.  To an extent they are right.  But what is communications and how does it impact the field of public safety?

Communication is the process of transferring information from the source to the recipient.  That never changes.  But it's how we communicate with each other that define our roles in emergency response.  It is likely you have heard the terms interoperability and narrowbanding thrown around.  Some first responders fear these concepts simply because they don't understand them.

Interoperability is just a fancy way of saying "I can talk to you, and you can talk to me."  You don't realize it, but think about it.  You already have interoperability in your agency.  You have a radio; your dispatcher has a radio.  You can communicate.  We all know this is crucial in our daily lives as we respond to fires and EMS calls.  But we need to take this concept to the next level.

That next level is stepping back and evaluating your response area.  Do you have coverage in every inch of your district?  If so, you are in a great position.  Now take another step back.  Look at the separation between EMS and Fire.  Many areas on Long Island run separate agencies.  Those departments that surround you and give you mutual aid: can you communicate with them?  Can they communicate with you?  This is where first responders should start thinking about interoperability.

The explosion of UHF or "high-band" repeater systems in the area has given rise to a sense of isolationism.  Departments moved off of crowded, shared low band frequencies and put up their own systems.  This was not a bad move but, how do you talk between these bands?  I will use the EMS/Fire example.  EMS around me uses VHF, but many of the fire departments are on UHF.  This is turn causes a communications gap.  Technology has given us the tools as first responders to bridge that gap.  New multi-band radios (such as the APX7500) allow the first responder to operate on either band with the turn of a knob.  A Fire Chief can help direct incoming EMS units at a heavy rescue call.  EMT's can notify the fire dispatcher of their status.

Interoperability plays a big role in larger incidents as well.  The Federal government has established national interoperability channels for all public safety entities.  No additional license is needed, and is available on VHF, UHF, 7/8/900 MHz and more on the way.  It is the true path enhancing our abilities as emergency personnel.

Now for narrowbanding.  This is actually a result of the UHF explosion.  There are only so many frequencies in the public safety pool.  The F.C.C. saw this and acted.  Previously, frequencies were spaced at 25 kHz.  Many departments are still operating with this spacing.  As of January 1, 2011, no new licenses or requests for renewals will be accepted by the F.C.C. if you are still operating in wideband mode.  Pretty soon (January 1, 2013) it will be illegal to operate equipment not capable of narrowband, or 12.5 kHz operation.  Motorola has actually stopped making the older wideband only radios.  Here are some important issues from the F.C.C. on Narrowbanding:

  • F.C.C. establishes January 1, 2013 deadline for migration to 12.5 kHz technology

  • The order affects systems on VHF and UHF (high-band) channels between 150 and 512 MHz

  • Applications for wideband operations (25 KHz) will NOT be accepted after January 1, 2011

  • Application modification of operations that expand the authorized contour of an existing station using 25 KHz channels will NOT be accepted after January 1, 2011 (Also applies to "new" systems submitted for licensing)

If you are not sure if your equipment is compliant, give us a call at Telecom.  We can evaluate your communications needs and assist you in this transition.  Do not wait until the last minute, or you will find yourself without the ability to communicate.Narrowband assistance






Topics: fire depatments, 2 way radio, narrowband, interoperability

Telecom Announces Sponsorship of the 2011 NYS FD Drill Team Season

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Tue, May 10, 2011 @ 14:05 PM

Press Release:

(Plainview, NY) May 10, 2011 -

Telsponsor NYS FD drill teams resized 600ecom Communications, Inc. is proud to announce our sponsorship of the New York State Fire Department Drill Teams as the 2011 Primary Series Sponsor and Exclusive Communications Sponsor.  2011 will be the biggest New York State Racing Season ever with firefighters from departments across Long Island and New York State competing in challenges designed to test their skills in the pillars of firefighting such as climbing ladders and positioning hoselines.  

“We’re happy to announce our partnership with Telecom Communications, Inc. in making the 2011 FD Drill Team season the biggest ever.  Telecom Communications, Inc. continues to show their commitment to the firefighters of Long Island and across New York, with the number one reputation in the state for professional radios and installations, we can think of no better company to call the Exclusive Communications Sponsor of the NYS FD Drill Teams, and our 2011 Primary Season Sponsor!” – Paul Susskind, President Suffolk VFP+DTCA  

Telecom Communications, Inc., a leading Motorola dealer of two way radio sales and service, with offices located in Plainview, NY and New York City has been serving the wireless communications industry since 1959.  Generations of firefighters have relied on Telecom Communications, Inc. and Motorola radios when lives are at risk; radios that deliver interoperability on demand; superior audio, and simple, intuitive operation.  Telecom Communications delivers communication solutions that allow fire departments to focus on their mission, making technology second nature.

“We are excited about our partnership with the 2011 NYS FD Drill Teams.  Volunteer firefighters are an integral part of the community, devoting their time and selves to protecting others.  Firefighters and Motorola go hand in hand so this sponsorship was a natural fit.” – John W. Bos – President, Telecom Communications, Inc.


Topics: motorola, two way radio, press release, fire depatments, drill teams