Switching to the Tactical Channel

Issue 5 and Volume 161.

Question: When do you switch to a tactical channel (TC)? If we look at fire incidents at which firefighters are seriously injured or killed, one problem surfaces time and time again. That problem is communications. For as much as firefighters like to talk (normally in the form of kitchen chats, the ever present teasing and joking in the station, and rumor mongering), we usually for some reason hesitate to communicate at fires. This manifests itself not only in poor (or a lack of) communication but also in the basic use of our radios. I had a chief in my previous department who almost always put the mic too close to his mouth, which resulted in “blurred” or “fuzzy” communications. When you’re crawling down the hall in a fire searching for kids and extending yourself because of fire conditions, you want to hear and understand what the incident commander (IC) running…

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