Wed, 06/13/2012 - 10:00 — John Niewiecki
The question that is often asked of me from larger restoration companies that want to monitor fire leads throughout multiple counties is, “how do I know if I can receive all the fire dispatches from my office location? My entire territory spans quite a few counties . . .”
This is a great question and one that merits an in depth response.
First, one must understand the nature of public safety/fire transmissions.
All public safety radio transmissions are regulated by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). The FCC is tasked with ensuring there is enough frequencies and bandwidth available to accommodate the communication demands in the marketplace as well as for public safety. This is achieved today in part by limiting the power of transmitters so that police, EMS, and fire communications are only received up to the county border and not much further. This way, frequencies can be reused over and again in relatively close proximity without interference.
One key: Line of sight reception.
Public safety, including of course fire dispatches, are subject to interference throughout each county. Interference comes in the form of buildings, hills, cell towers, and just about any physical or radio obstruction. So the best criterion to use for guaranteed reception is line of sight . . . can you actually see the transmitter from where you want to receive the signal? If you can, you are guaranteed quality reception.
Yet if this was the case every time, reception would be scarce. So along the lay of the land signal strength must be significant enough to make it to all corners of a county with consideration of some form of obstruction being present. This opens up some options.
Option 1: Tower Services
With consideration that transmissions need to be present throughout a county despite some obstructions, when there are zero obstructions, reach is significantly increased. Flat land will allow for better reception whereas hilly or mountainous terrain will impede reception. The trick is to place an antenna as high up as possible in order to diminish obstructions and in turn increase the reach of your fire lead generation system. Generally, the higher up the antenna the better the reception and more coverage one can achieve.
Do you need a tower installation? Check out our blog post on <<tower considerations here>>.
Option 2: Find a higher location
What if your office is located in the lowest part of your territory? What if your building happens to be amid large buildings? And what if a tower is out of the question?
If you find yourself in this situation the other option is to simply find a better location to place scanners. If your fire lead generation system can transmit audio from your scanners over the internet, having a person at the location where the radios are physically located is not necessary.
So ask a friend, trusted employee, or family member if they would accommodate a PC and scanners to run your system in their home or office. If <<done right>>, the installation of the lead generation system should not be as intrusive as it appears, and they may very well do it for free or the cost of their monthly internet bill. Quite a bargain for fire leads each month that could very easily equate to thousand more dollars in revenue.