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Digital Project

Position Paper on Background Noise and Radio Performance
9/24/08... Motorola has provided a NewLink to its August 2008 position paper on best practices to deal with background noise and radio performance: Motorola Position Paper. The IAFC provides this NewLink as a resource for those interested in the subject.

Interim Report on Digital Radios Released
The Interim Report and Recommendations: Fireground Noise and Digital Radio Transmissions (pdf) includes conclusions based on nine months of laboratory testing conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). An important part of the report is the set of recommendations for the fire service, the federal government and industry—many but not all surrounding the following themes:

  • The development of standards and guidelines concerning public-safety communications intelligibility.
  • Additional research, a broader review of standards and a gap analysis that addresses factors of communication systems, including but not limited to intelligibility, use practices, maintenance and alignment.
  • Enhancing digital technologies to achieve the same or better level of the intelligibility quality of analog.
  • Increased coordination and collaboration of government, public safety and industry.

The report also contains recommendations from the Working Group's Best Practices Task Group, which has developed procedures and identified technical issues for consideration when radios are used in the field.

NTIA Report on Radio Systems Test Results Released
The Institute for Telecommunications Services (ITS) has posted the National Telecommunications & Information Administration report, Intelligibility of Selected Radio Systems in the Presence of Fireground Noise: Test Plan and Results.

The report's preface notes:
This work was performed in cooperation with the IAFC. The IAFC will issue a companion report in June to assist in putting the laboratory data into public safety context with observations and recommendations for fire chiefs, EMS directors and law enforcement leadership. The information in this NTIA Technical Report should be considered in conjunction with the information in the companion IAFC report.

IAFC Digital Project Working Group Produces Best Practices Presentation
June 2, 2008... Publication of the IAFC Portable Radio Best Practices presentation (pdf) follows a year of extensive study of current practices supported by laboratory testing. Two reports will detail this study and laboratory testing (see NTIA report and DPWG Interim Report).

These best practices will provide operational examples for the most effective and safest use of portable radios in a fire-service environment. While originally focusing on digital radios, it was determined that the presentation had valuable information for all types of portable radios, both analog and digital.


In 2007, the IAFC formed a working group composed of fire-service personnel, other public-safety representatives, wireless-radio manufacturers, manufacturers of fire apparatus and equipment and consultants to address potential problems found in digital radios in the presence of loud background noise. The IAFC has been working in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Commerce to develop reliable data to address the extent and nature of the problem.

Additional details: Go to 3/20/2007 IAFC member alert Common Fireground Noise May Cause Unintelligibility of Digital Radio Transmissions

Digital Project Updates Archive