Is it just the K.B.F.P.D, or has any other fire protection agency gradually evolved into "Chatty Kathies" on the radio?
The issue came to light for me a few months ago while responding to a reported traffic accident on the state highway. I needed to tell the other responding engine information about the location of the incident, but I couldn't get through due to traffic on the command net. The other traffic was on the correct channel, but what could have been said in a few words took about twenty seconds to get out. This was followed by dispatch repeating verbatim the flowery size up of the other call. While my traffic wasn't critical, it was more important than nothing visible from a residential ringing alarm.
Neither my incident, nor the other incident required the use of a tactical channel, nor the dedication of the command channel to our incidents. What each incident required, was that communications be held to a reasonable amount of information.
As an example: A single engine is dispatched to a residential ringing fire alarm. These are very common calls, they are false alarms 99 % of the time. Our agency sends one engine to these calls. Some agencies send an engine code-2, that is without lights and siren.
The engine arrives on scene and sees the above image.
Dispatch Engine 226 is on scene. We have nothing visible from a two story, wood frame, single family dwelling. Dwelling appears to be on it's roof. We will be investigating.
Or, the first in officer might give the following report on conditions:
Dispatch, Engine 214 is on scene. This is an inverted, type five single family dwelling with a concrete tile roof - I mean floor. It is approximately 2300 square feet in size and appears to be inhabited. There is no smoke or fire visible, or alarm sounding. No exposures are present, a water supply is located down the street. This will be the Lindbergh incident, Engine 214 - Captain Chatty will be incident commander and going into investigative mode.
The primary purpose of a report on conditions is to provide other responding units a verbal image of what the first-in officer sees when he/she arrives. This is a single unit response. The report on conditions now serves as a heads up to dispatch and to the District Commander of what's up.
It may not seem like a big difference, but throw in a few umms and aaahs in there and add the word for word repeat from dispatch - now the radio is tied up for a minute or more. A minute that propels Engine 224 down the highway nearly a mile while I am trying to tell them to get off of the highway and take the bypass tunnel to my incident.
The longer report on conditions would be acceptable for a working fire and I understand the need to practice how you play. All I am saying is that radio time can be precious and we need to be a little more practical in it's use. It's all about balance. There are ways you can practice without taking up air time.
This used be be more noticeable with new officers, but now even some District Commanders are spending too much time on the mike. It's too easy to micro-manage your people over the radio. That's another topic.
I would write a memo to staff about this matter, but it's going to be a while before I put my name on any district document other than my time card.
I'm just sayin'
Thanks for reading,