This article first appeared in the November 2001 issue of Monitoring Times.
As new digital trunked radio systems replace their old analog predecessors, many scanner listeners find themselves no longer able to follow the action of the local police and fire departments. Until scanners that can monitor digital transmissions become commercially available, one option may be to simultaneously broadcast ("simulcast") some of the trunked radio transmissions on an analog radio channel that can easily be monitored.
Having been an avid monitorist since the OLD regency 10 channel through the Bearcat BC101 and so many others I cannot recall I am stumped at trunking. I have recently moved back to my hometown of Springfield, Ohio. Here we used to have one fire repeater and PD the same. Now just this month they switched over to ComNet Ericcson digital and all is gone.Springfield, Ohio
Yes, the old Springfield, Ohio, Police dispatch frequency of 159.090 MHz and Fire dispatch on 154.370 MHz appear to be gone. City Police and Fire services have transitioned to the new M/A Com EDACS system and are using ProVoice digital audio radios, which cannot be monitored by current scanners. Other city services are expected to stay in analog voice, so not everything is out of reach. The new system uses the following frequencies, listed in Logical Channel Number (LCN) order:
I understand your frustration, Stephen, and I would encourage you to write those letters to the mayor and city council. I hope the information in this column will help you and so many others make the case in their community that other enlightened municipalities have made their public safety communications open and available to the public.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
The Massachusetts State Police is the primary user of a statewide Motorola trunked radio system that has both Type I and Type II radios in service, referred to as a "hybrid". Because there are Type I radios in use, you'll need to use a fleetmap in your TrunkTracker scanner to properly display and follow the active talkgroups. The fleetmap for the Massachusetts statewide system is
Out on Cape Cod, each fire department generally has their own dispatch center with their own talkgroup on the statewide system. These departments also simulcast their dispatches on a separate 33 MHz lowband frequency. For instance, Falmouth Fire uses talkgroup 37552 and simulcasts on 33.78 MHz while Brewster simulcasts their talkgroup 37328 on 33.52 MHz.
The frequencies in use on the statewide system in western Cape Cod (referred to as "Zone 4") are 854.2125, 855.6625, 855.8875, 857.2375, 857.2625, 858.2125, 859.2125, 859.2375, 860.2125, 860.2375 and 860.4625 MHz.
Eastern Cape Code uses another set of frequencies, but I don't have clear information about which ones are active and which ones overlap with Zone 4.
Ocean City, Maryland
The coastal resort town of Ocean City, Maryland, has operated an 11-channel EDACS system since 1993. Their frequencies, in LCN order, are 859.9875, 853.9625, 855.2375, 860.9875, 856.7375, 857.7375, 858.7375, 859.7375, 860.7375, 856.2375 and 857.2375 MHz.
Although their trunking system works fine, the Fire Department simulcasts several frequencies including dispatch on 158.895, fireground operations on 154.085 and medevac on 154.025 MHz. Coast Guard operations can be heard on 157.150 and County Fire Operations are available on 46.380 MHz.
Anne Arundel County, Maryland
Anne Arundel County in Maryland operates a Motorola Type II trunked radio system on 856.3625, 856.3875, 856.4125, 857.3625, 857.3875, 857.4125, 858.3625, 858.3875, 858.4125, 859.3625, 859.3875, 859.4125, 860.3625, 860.3875 and 860.4125 MHz.
Fire and Mutual Aid are simulcast on the following VHF frequencies:
Fairfax County, Virginia
Fairfax County, Virginia, is using an eight site Motorola ASTRO digital trunked system on the following 20 frequencies: 852.9625, 853.1875, 853.3375, 853.4625, 853.4875, 853.6375, 853.7875, 853.9125, 853.9625, 854.1375 and 854.2625, 854.2875, 854.4625, 855.9625, 855.9875, 856.2625, 857.2625, 858.2625, 859.2625 and 860.2625 MHz.
Dispatch for Fire and Rescue, using talkgroup 00176, will also be simulcast on 460.575 MHz, although it's not clear whether that arrangement will be permanent.
Continuing down the Atlantic coast, the community of Kempsville in the Hampton Roads area uses the Virginia Beach, Virginia, trunked radio system for their fire and rescue communications. A simulcast of their activity is transmitted on 155.175 MHz. Their reasoning is that the rescue squad, which is all-volunteer, makes heavy use of scanners and pagers!
The Virginia Beach municipal trunked radio system is a Motorola Type IIi (hybrid) system and uses the following frequencies: 856.4625, 856.4875, 856.7125, 856.7375, 857.4625, 857.4875, 857.7125, 857.7375, 858.4625, 858.4875, 858.7125, 858.7375, 859.4625, 859.4875, 859.7125, 859.7375, 860.4625, 860.4875, 860.7125 and 860.7375 MHz.
The fleetmap for this system is
There is a Fire and Rescue talk-around channel on 852.4125 MHz that is occasionally used while on-scene, but you have to be fairly close to the action to hear it.
Kempville Fire and Rescue units are also equipped with backup VHF radios set for the following frequencies:
Lapeer County, Michigan
Lapeer County in southeast Michigan operates a three-site Motorola Type II trunked radio system on the following frequencies: 866.5875, 866.8125, 867.0625, 867.3125, 867.5375, 867.7625, 867.8125, 868.0625, 868.3500, 868.6000 and 868.7875 MHz.
Lapeer County Fire Dispatch simulcasts on 151.130 primarily for department members with pagers and scanners. It's also reported that some municipalities in the county are using 46.42 MHz as a backup fire frequency.
Saginaw County, Michigan
Located to the northwest of Lapeer County, Saginaw County operates a Motorola Type II system on the following frequencies: 851.0125, 851.3625, 851.7125, 852.0125, 852.2375, 852.3125, 852.7125, 853.0125, 853.1125, 853.3625, 853.7125, 854.0375, 855.1125, 885.3875 and 855.7125 MHz.
Central Dispatch for City and County Fire uses talkgroup 1360 and simulcasts on 154.250 MHz.
As a reminder, listeners should be aware that Michigan law requires a permit in order to legally possess and use a scanner in a motor vehicle. This silliness was covered in my August 2001, column, and I've got more details on my website at www.signalharbor.com/michigan.html.
Fulton County, Georgia
Fulton County, Georgia, covers part of the Metro Atlanta area and operates a hybrid Motorola system using 853.0375, 854.5125, 854.5625, 855.6625, 855.7375, 856.3875, 856.4125, 857.3875, 857.4125, 858.3875, 858.4125 and 859.3875 MHz.
The fleetmap for this system is
This corresponds to preset E1P13 on TrunkTracker scanners.
The Fulton County Fire Department uses talkgroup 101-1 and simulcasts on 154.325 MHz.
The city of Dayton, Ohio, home of Hara Arena and the annual Dayton Hamvention, operates a Motorola Type IIi (hybrid) trunked radio system that includes the Cox-Dayton International Airport. Frequencies used are 856.2125, 856.4625, 856.7125, 856.9625, 857.4625, 857.2125, 857.7125, 857.9625, 858.2125, 858.4625, 858.7125, 858.9625, 859.2125, 859.4625, 859.7125, 859.9625, 860.2125, 860.4625, 860.7125 and 860.9625 MHz.
The fleetmap for this system is
Dispatch and paging from the Dayton Fire Department are simulcast o 154.430 MHz.
Other Simulcast Cities?
The municipalities I've listed here are just a few of the many places that make it easy for the casual scanner listener to hear public safety communications. Many towns make their frequency lists and talkgroup assignments available to anyone who asks, and a few cities even put their transmissions on the Internet!
I welcome further input from readers on trunked systems they monitor that also simulcast on a VHF or UHF channel. Perhaps with enough examples of open and available radio systems, people like Stephen will be able to convince their local officials to reconsider closing out scanner listeners.
Several other readers also wrote in to confirm 150.995 MHz as the primary VHF frequency used by the Arkansas Highway Patrol.
In response to your article in the Sept 2001 issue of Monitoring Times "Tracking the Trunks", you asked readers for additional information on the status of Phoenix's digital radio system. The digital radio system for all city departments was originally set to be in place by 1994, the dates were rolled back further and further due to costs and other factors. Finally the city was able to pass a bond initiative to get funds for the 800 MHz ASTRO digital radio system. When the bond was passed, voters were told the system would be in place by 2001, now the target date is approximately 2003 or 2004. The city has licensed a number of 800 MHz frequencies and has begun doing testing on the system throughout the city. Recently the Phoenix Chief of Police advised that he was pushing for the city to use a 700 MHz radio system to avoid congestion in the 800 MHz band caused by other trunked systems including Nextel. There has not been any further discussion on the proposed 700 MHz system.
Great information, Charles, thanks for the detailed update.
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