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On February 24, 2010 the Maple Bluff Fire Department (MBFD) in Dane County Wisconsin performed tests of several portable radios operating in simplex analog and simplex P25 digital mode. They compared the sound quality of the Kenwood TK-5210, Motorola XTS-2500, Motorola XTS-5000, Motorola APX-7000, EF Johnson SL 5100, Tait 9135, and ICOM 9011 under normal firefighter working conditions.  The results of the tests are documented in this video.

The Maple Bluff Fire Department is not endorsing any particular manufacturer, vendor, or radio type, and understand there are radios on the market that were not tested. The radios seen in this test were selected by availability at the time of the test through local vendors.

The tests done by the Maple Bluff Fire Department lacked many controls that would typically be found in a scientific test. Nevertheless, I think the MBFD folks did good work and that the evidence recorded in the video is significant. The most important point from my perspective is the vastly different performance of radios in simplex P25 mode. Perhaps every fire department needs to perform similar testing before making the decision to “go digital.” Please remember that there is no FCC requirement to convert to digital operation.

Please download their Radio Test Worksheet to record your opinion of each radio in their test.

Click here to visit the Maple Bluff Fire Department website.

If you have questions about this test, please contact:

Chief Josh Ripp: jripp at
Assistant Chief Brad Ingersoll: bingersoll at