St. Louis Adopts Radio-equipped Masks
Transmitter-receiver within self ontained mask checks out on first assignment
Fire service communications have come a long way from the days of the trumpet and the bull horn, but the problem of communications from within a fire area to the Command Post has long been a troublesome one to chiefs in charge at fires. The St. Louis Fire Department, in cooperation with the Office of Civil Defense, is attempting to solve this problem with the development of radios built into self-contained masks.
New communications concept
This new concept in communications was put to the test on the very same day that the new masks were placed in service. Called to a smoky fire in a transformer room on the 16th floor of the Railway Exchange Building, members of the heavy-duty Rescue Squad used the masks for the first time, with notable success.
Two squad members entered the smoke-filled room wearing the masks while another fireman was stationed outside the room with the Battalion Chief in charge. A member was stationed at the Rescue Truck with a radio, and the Chief’s aide was posted by his car with a portable radio.
The firemen in the room were able to talk with each other and relay information as to the conditions. Prompt progress reports were quickly transmitted to the dispatcher together with requests for additional supplies of dry chemical which was beginning to run low. The savings in time and manpower greatly contributed to the containment and extinguishment of the fire.
The equipment consists of a self-contained mask with a microphone attached inside the face piece. The wire from the microphone comes out the exhalation valve and is attached to a lK-watt transmitter and receiver. The radio is carried in a plastic weatherproof bag which is slung over the shoulder. It weighs only 55 ounces. A button type receiver placed in the ear of the operator permits reception in high noise areas. Reception and transmission is carried on at 153.80 Megacycles which is the frequency assigned to the St. Louis Fire Department mobile transmitter.
The St. Louis Fire Department is continuing experimentation with this new equipment which may well point the way to new methods of operation for the fire fighting service.