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Thread: Report: New evidence claims Motorola radios contributed to Houston Ffs Deaths

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    Default Report: New evidence claims Motorola radios contributed to Houston Ffs Deaths



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    Im getting some kind of access denied error when I click on the PDF link.

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    The report linked doesn't reallu have any good info in it as far a radios go. This one is much more detailed.
    https://www.tdi.texas.gov/reports/fi...ouston2013.pdf
    After reading this I really hope HFD has decided to follow NFPA recommendations for fire ground operations. Trunked digital radios should never be used for fire ground operations, time and time again people get hurt or killed because we refuse to learn from past mistakes.

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    The biggest of the local fire agencies I cover (top 10 biggest in the county) is moving to a 700mhz Phase II system toward the end of this year from conventional VHF. This (fireground ops on trunked TGs as opposed to simplex) has been a concern of mine, as I'm friends with many of the fire guys. We'll see which way they go...
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    From my personal experience as a former Batt Chief, I can assert that fireground should ALWAYS be simplex. This is pretty much standard for fire departments that don't rate (or can't afford) a hugely expensive radio system. In fact, the local FD where I live now (and the surrounding agencies) ALL use simplex and most are CARRIER SQUELCH.
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    Quote Originally Posted by com501 View Post
    From my personal experience as a former Batt Chief, I can assert that fireground should ALWAYS be simplex. This is pretty much standard for fire departments that don't rate (or can't afford) a hugely expensive radio system. In fact, the local FD where I live now (and the surrounding agencies) ALL use simplex and most are CARRIER SQUELCH.
    I have zero issues with using CSQ for fireground. Sure, there might be a lot false unmutings, but with the diesel engines, pumps, PASS devices and other shit in the background, a little static burst is hardly noticeable. At least the signal isn't going through a bunch of repeaters, duplexers, combiners, zone controllers and fiber to make it out the other end and when someone keys their radio, everyone is going to hear it.

    Using a TRS for fireground ops should be criminal.

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    That is a rather misunderstood subject. NFPA1221 states "at a minimum, the tactical communications channel shall be capable of operating in analog simplex mode" and "trunked system talkgroups shall be permitted to be used to provide on scene tactical communications if desired by the AHJ". This is even described in the investigation's references. This has been the basis by which we include simplex channels available to all users if normal operations on the P25 system are compromised or not effective. Much of the problems in Houston seem to be attributable to training and the very recent switch prior to the incident to all new radios and trunking operations for a agency that was previously conventional UHF. The complicated build out of the 700MHz system was frequently in the news leading up to this.

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    In Columbus CFD does not use simplex for Fireground operations. Our system is ran and built by people who give a f$&k. We have 8 simulcast sites plus other singles with roaming that our radios can use. I think we have 97 percent in building coverage. At times, yes they do use simplex (Car to Car) they call it. That’s only used in warehouses or dense buildings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by com501 View Post
    From my personal experience as a former Batt Chief, I can assert that fireground should ALWAYS be simplex. This is pretty much standard for fire departments that don't rate (or can't afford) a hugely expensive radio system. In fact, the local FD where I live now (and the surrounding agencies) ALL use simplex and most are CARRIER SQUELCH.
    I dont think there is much value in only using Analog CSQ (I dont understand why you would) - but I'd agree that using conventional on the fireground, be it digital or analog, is the best safest route - and if I were designing such a system, I'd suggest using a VRS on site to uplink that back into the radio system for logging purposes - unless your radio system was specifically designed for in-building coverage, using it indoors during a life and safety operation is very high risk.

    In the end, your radio vendor will build you all of the system you're willing to pay for, and in most cases, its good enough - but in some, like this one, its clear its not - in the end though, the responsability is held by the controlling agency to ensure that communications meet real world needs, and if not to remediate accordingly. Just like I'd never suggest someone install a dispatch console system over CSSI without a control station backup - you also need a backup method for your trunked radio system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aloha View Post
    if I were designing such a system, I'd suggest using a VRS on site to uplink that back into the radio system for logging purposes
    An agency near me uses trunked tactical channels on all incidents. Select apparatus have DVRSs - in situations where the tac channel has a chance to be a life-safety concern, i.e. a structure fire with interior ops, at least one of the trucks with a DVRS on it is guaranteed to be on scene. Every rescue, every chief, many aerial ladder trucks and a few engines have them, and are capable of supporting simplex-to-trunked tac linking and vice versa on any of the trunked tacs.

    Seems to work well - nearly impossible to tell whether the comms are originating from simplex or trunked tac (all analog btw). IIRC they have got something configured to pass the RID of the radio on simplex across to the DVRS and send it to the system, so it appears even on GW that the portable radio is initiating the call - in other words the DVRS is virtually transparent, even if an emergency button is pressed.

    On-scene crews get to have strong, reliable comms, dispatch gets to monitor the situation and record, and crews/chiefs/etc either responding from afar or monitoring from somewhere else in the trunking footprint get to hear the incident.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 120Comm View Post
    Seems to work well - nearly impossible to tell whether the comms are originating from simplex or trunked tac (all analog btw). IIRC they have got something configured to pass the RID of the radio on simplex across to the DVRS and send it to the system, so it appears even on GW that the portable radio is initiating the call - in other words the DVRS is virtually transparent, even if an emergency button is pressed.
    Yeah - on analog you can use MDC1200 to provide this functionality - and you can get the equivalent on digital - I think you can even use analog on the VRS side, and have that become digital elsewhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 120Comm View Post
    An agency near me uses trunked tactical channels on all incidents. Select apparatus have DVRSs - in situations where the tac channel has a chance to be a life-safety concern, i.e. a structure fire with interior ops, at least one of the trucks with a DVRS on it is guaranteed to be on scene. Every rescue, every chief, many aerial ladder trucks and a few engines have them, and are capable of supporting simplex-to-trunked tac linking and vice versa on any of the trunked tacs.

    Seems to work well - nearly impossible to tell whether the comms are originating from simplex or trunked tac (all analog btw). IIRC they have got something configured to pass the RID of the radio on simplex across to the DVRS and send it to the system, so it appears even on GW that the portable radio is initiating the call - in other words the DVRS is virtually transparent, even if an emergency button is pressed.

    On-scene crews get to have strong, reliable comms, dispatch gets to monitor the situation and record, and crews/chiefs/etc either responding from afar or monitoring from somewhere else in the trunking footprint get to hear the incident.
    Sounds like they are using Futurecom DVRS.

    http://www.futurecom.com/upl/downloa...ures-sheet.pdf

    Really nice piece of kit.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Viper1-6 View Post
    Sounds like they are using Futurecom DVRS.

    http://www.futurecom.com/upl/downloa...ures-sheet.pdf

    Really nice piece of kit.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Magnus View Post
    The report linked doesn't reallu have any good info in it as far a radios go. This one is much more detailed.
    https://www.tdi.texas.gov/reports/fi...ouston2013.pdf
    After reading this I really hope HFD has decided to follow NFPA recommendations for fire ground operations. Trunked digital radios should never be used for fire ground operations, time and time again people get hurt or killed because we refuse to learn from past mistakes.
    Not only are they using digital (a highly complicated 700MHz/800MHz Moto P25 mixed P1/P2 system) talkgroups for fireground ops, those talkgroups are encrypted. Maximizing the potential for something to fark up.

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    More off topic, how it's done in our part of town (EU);
    We have a small country of about 5,5M citizens. The country is divided into 22 "rescue departments" that span multiple cities. All departments have voluntary FD's as well.
    We have a national public safety TETRA network. The rescue department issues the tetra gear to the VFD's in varying extent. Some get one TMO-terminal per seat in an engine - others just two. Or anything in between.

    Some departments of all 22 (of the statewide) use TMO for fireground - paid or voluntary.
    Others use DMO with Airbus thr880i - with the notorious ref osc warp that makes it wander away - and tetra is kind of sensitive to off-spec devices - on DMO. In TMO the TBS keeps terminals in line.
    Our VFD again, use analog FM as fireground. The neighbouring uses some other channels. So worst case scenario, all of the following are used on the fireground;
    TMO
    DMO
    Analog FM - and on different channels.

    There are DMO gateways that would link DMO to TMO, but no-one uses these. It is possible to link FM to either DMO or TMO - but it's not done either.

    Oh and for encryption, PS Tetra uses TEA-2 per ETSI spec.

    It's a mess. We are not allowed to purchase our own Tetra gear to use in DMO on the same groups or channels as the rescue department - for whatever reason.

    Our GP340's (Waris) are now 10+ years old but still rocking. We'll be putting out some big (for us) cash to replace the whole fleet of about 20 devices in the near future. Luckily, even tetra terminals can be had - with ancillaries (savox) for ~EUR1000/piece.

    And a bit of liability. If we use the dangerous THR880i's in DMO (all two of them) that are issued to us, it's dangerous - but none of our department liable for it. But if we use the idiot proof analog fm devices that have been tuned and aligned recently - it's our responibility

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    I've never heard any compelling argument for trunking used on the fireground.

    Analog, Simplex, Unencrypted. Period.

    There's absolutely nothing discussed on fireground channels that needs to be encrypted, and there's no good reason for using digital (unless you're on something like TETRA where you have no option), and trunking relies on external factors that might be suboptimal.

    To run fireground operations on trunking is absolutely irresponsible. If a FF should be injured due to a loss of communications while on one, the radio manager should be held criminally liable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CQDX View Post
    I've never heard any compelling argument for trunking used on the fireground.

    Analog, Simplex, Unencrypted. Period.
    Consider oil and gas. Specifically, refineries that operate in communities with a significant public interface. These companies have a keen interest in keeping information from the general public and the media during plant upsets, fires, and other emergencies. Chevron in the Bay Area, for example, has moved all comms to P25 Phase II AES-256, including logistics, plant operations, and the fire department. It's not your typical fireground, sure, but it is a fireground nonetheless from time to time. Large fires are very rare and abnormal, but there are many small ones, along with releases and upsets that Chevron would prefer you didn't know about. For Chevron Richmond's part, they've had 3 significant fires since 2012.

    Are they sacrificing FF safety in the name of information security? Could be, could be...

    Screen Shot 2018-04-07 at 8.30.40 PM.png

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    Quote Originally Posted by triptolemus View Post
    Consider oil and gas. Specifically, refineries that operate in communities with a significant public interface. These companies have a keen interest in keeping information from the general public and the media during plant upsets, fires, and other emergencies. Chevron in the Bay Area, for example, has moved all comms to P25 Phase II AES-256, including logistics, plant operations, and the fire department. It's not your typical fireground, sure, but it is a fireground nonetheless from time to time. Large fires are very rare and abnormal, but there are many small ones, along with releases and upsets that Chevron would prefer you didn't know about. For Chevron Richmond's part, they've had 3 significant fires since 2012.

    Are they sacrificing FF safety in the name of information security? Could be, could be...

    Screen Shot 2018-04-07 at 8.30.40 PM.png

    Private industry has a significant interest in securing communications. Both the daily operations, and incidents, if information is not secured can be detrimental to the company. I perfectly get why they would invest in hardened communications security. Nevermind the possibility that sabotage by competitors, ANTIFA, etc. all bring to the front why COMSEC isn't just for "military" anymore.

    From reading the documentation on the LODD report and NIOSH papers on the incident, radio issues weren't the only contributing factor. While there are no doubt some issues with subscriber performance, it is a stretch to make it the "root cause" of these casualties. There were operational errors, such as but not limited to, a proper scene size up, poor training on the Grace Accountability system, and other operational errors which lead to unsafe conditions. Sure, the radios may have failed, but without getting deep into the ATIA records and studying the reasons for subscriber rejects, it is throwing darts on a dart board trying to find blame for a horrible incident that resulted in four people never coming home.
    Your streaming makes me AES-256. Keep it up and you'll soon have nothing to listen to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MTS2000DES View Post
    From reading the documentation on the LODD report and NIOSH papers on the incident, radio issues weren't the only contributing factor. While there are no doubt some issues with subscriber performance, it is a stretch to make it the "root cause" of these casualties. There were operational errors, such as but not limited to, a proper scene size up, poor training on the Grace Accountability system, and other operational errors which lead to unsafe conditions. Sure, the radios may have failed, but without getting deep into the ATIA records and studying the reasons for subscriber rejects, it is throwing darts on a dart board trying to find blame for a horrible incident that resulted in four people never coming home.
    This.

    The whole Houston LODD incident is yet another example of the perfect storm. There isn't one specific thing that went wrong to cause these deaths; instead, it was a combination of factors - and each of which, had they been the only issue, wouldn't likely have caused this particular scenario.

    That roof does seem kinda sketchy though, designed for asphalt shingles and they put concrete tile on it? My parents' house had a terra cotta tile roof. 2 x 12s spaced every foot, and the decking is all 2 x 12s on the diagonal. Had two trees fall on it during a winter storm, just ripped some gutters loose.

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    This is commonly known as the "accident chain" in aviation crash investigations. An entire sequence of events added up to cause a negative outcome. It is nearly impossible for each event or item on their own to bring down an aircraft, yet when they all combine disaster generally happens.

    On the flip side, altering just one of those events can drastically change things anywhere from only slightly modifying the chain all the way to completely breaking it. The real value and challenge comes in identifying when such a chain exists but is broken, the so called "near misses". The NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System, and rules to encourage reporting, the great focus on learning from others' mistakes, and many other safety programs have evolved from this basic idea with great effect.

    Although I have seen the type of thinking spread into other areas and industries, in my eyes the fire service has not embraced it enough, with a few exceptions.

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    KHOU and Channel 2 are famous muckrakers, and emergency services are a favorite target of theirs. Take everything they report with a HUGE grain of salt.

    As others have mentioned, the biggest comm issue on this incident was lack of training and understanding of how the new system operated. HFD went from 8-channel simulcast UHF analog to P25 trunking literally overnight (the comparators for the old system failed catastrophically, and the decision was made to switch in the middle of the night) only a few weeks prior to the Southwest Inn incident, and everyone was still used to how the old system operated. People trying to key over each other and the chiefs/safety officers having higher PTT priority and overriding guys in the IDLH were THE biggest comm issues - not coverage, not "defective radios," and not incompetent system techs. At one point something like 23 radios were recorded as trying to PTT at the same time - that's how they did it on UHF.

    Encryption played no role at all. One of the motivating factors for HFD to encrypt their tacs was a desire to keep LODD radio traffic private - audio from a close-call high-rise fire in 2007 was widely distributed across the internet, including a guy's near-dying gasps as his air ran out. As of now none of the radio traffic from Southwest Inn has made it into the public domain.

    As with anything of this nature only about 15% of what actually happened is being reported on. Politics, internal strife, aggressive interior firefighting culture, and any number of other behind-the-scenes issues played just as much a role, if not more, than radio comms in this incident.
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    Quote Originally Posted by motorola_otaku View Post
    As others have mentioned, the biggest comm issue on this incident was lack of training and understanding of how the new system operated. HFD went from 8-channel simulcast UHF analog to P25 trunking literally overnight (the comparators for the old system failed catastrophically, and the decision was made to switch in the middle of the night) only a few weeks prior to the Southwest Inn incident, and everyone was still used to how the old system operated.
    This why rushed project time lines are a recipe for disaster. Granted, not much choice in this case, but this what happens when a major shift in systems occurs with poor user training. Not that this would have changed the outcome, as you said, so little of ALL of the facts rarely get reported and when they do, they are often inaccurate.
    Your streaming makes me AES-256. Keep it up and you'll soon have nothing to listen to.

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    What I don't understand at all is the "mayday" calls were heard, recorded and responded to. What more can you ask of a radio system???

    What happened after that was purely a logistics nightmare.

    As was eluded to by another poster, when 2 units try to key at the same time, tuunking has 1 winner and 1 loser...conventional has 2 losers. But they were just used to being able to key-up over someone, not realizing they aren't being heard. They thought the "bonks" on the new system were failures, when in fact they were "not allowed to interrupt" warnings.

    But blaming the city for a lack of training or for sending firefighters into an unsafe environment doesn't get anyone any money, suing MSI does.

    I wonder why no one is suing the PAR equipment manufacturer as that equipment failed miserably during this incident (as it usually did)?

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