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Montgomery County firefighters responded to a structure fire in a multi-family dwelling on 05/03/2008. A digital trunked radio system was used for fireground communication. A recording of the radio traffic is available for your review by clicking on the following link. This is a large file (1.5 hours of audio) and may take a long time to download if you have a slow Internet connection. The Mayday call is about 9.5 minutes into the incident.

This is not an official recording, and I believe that it was probably recorded from a scanner. The advantage of a recording such as this is that it represents what was repeated by the digital trunked radio system. In contrast, an official recording would probably be made at the logging recorder output of the dispatch console and would represent only what was heard by the trunked radio system before it was rebroadcast to field units. The downside of this type of recording is that details of how it was recorded are unknown.

The important thing to consider when listening to this recording is the disparity between audio quality of different field units. It is extremely inconsistent, and the problem is not because of how the recording was made. The audio quality is typical of what can be expected when using a digital trunked radio system for fireground or onscene tactical law enforcement communication.

I believe this incident is yet another example of why analog simplex radio communication on the fireground is superior to digital modulation, and clearly superior to digital trunked communication.