I like the sense of community you seem to give the US fire services. It's all gone a bit central government purchasing over here.
THAT, boys and girls is the ultimate result of big government and large corporations "working together". It is not for the common good or business built on open competition. Individual achievement has been moved to the third row (Click here for an interesting commentary on this subject). In my home county, a single vendor has been given exclusive rights to provide all public safety communications served by a proprietary network. The user suffer, the taxpayers suffer, and those who are served suffer. Why?
CENTRAL GOVERNMENT PURCHASING! Sometimes the business relationship is made at the city or county level through a user agency "teamed" with a major supplier. Sometimes, it is an agency such as 911, EMA, or even at the state level. Who benefits from this relationships? You already know the answer!
A single purchasing agent at the state government level can exclude a manufacturer from offering their products on a state contract. It recently happened. A manufacturer was told there had been no call for their products although this manufacturer is one of top three producers of communications equipment in the world! Who benefits from such policies? You already know the answer.
We recently cautioned a county EMA Director to seriously evaluate the offerings for a product that was known to lock out ALL competition. Our advice was ignored. Shortly after receiving the new system, a local agency wanted to purchase competitive equipment using the same "open standard" technology. As it turns out, the technology wasn't so open after all.
The purchaser found that his equipment had been password protected (without his knowledge). This prevents other suppliers from being able to match their equipment to the system. After getting the password, the prospective user then found that a high level encryption option had been activated which precludes the use of any equipment with the exception of a single manufacturer. The obvious question is WHO benefits from such practices? You already know the answer.
Now, the question is, what are YOU going to do about it? Do you want to follow the path of our friends in England or do you want to stand up for the principals that made this country great? The choice, and the consequences are YOURS!