Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New affordable alternative to PC based dispatch consoles announced!

It is not unusual to lose console connectivity at dispatch centers.  The question is, what do you do when your console or one of your primary dispatch radios fails?  Or what do you do if you lose electrical power?  Or what do you do if you need to add another dispatch radio or two and you old console is maxed out?  Or what do you do if you want to add a secondary PSAP but don't have an extra $50,000 or more lying around?  The answer is simple - you call Falcon Direct!

Touch screen dispatch systems based on PC based technology and IP connectivity are great if you have lots of money, IT personnel on staff and a service contractor capable of responding quickly.  There are lot's of vendors out there with equipment to serve your needs ranging from Avtec to Zetron and others in between.  But how about all the rest of you?  What do YOU do?  What  you do is to call Falcon Direct and get all the details on our modular mechanical marvel, commonly known as the Controller II.

We introduced Controller II back in June of 2012 (Click here for initial introduction announcement).  We didn't announce pricing at that time.  Now we ARE!  But before we do, let us tell you what Controller II can do!

Controller II (shown above with optional MDC-1200 Unit ID Display), is capable of controlling up to ten associated 2-way radios, VHF or UHF.  The standard system includes six radios, any combination of VHF or UHF with provisions for adding four more at $2,000 per pair.  The standard Controller II is only $7,495 complete with your choice of a desk microphone, gooseneck microphone, or headset.  Selection of any radio is made a single button. An optional desktop 2-tone paging encoder or MDC-1200 unit ID display is $1,000 additional.  

You can connect multiple Controller II's for larger dispatch operations if desired.  Our standard warranty is one year with a five year warranty optionally available. Better yet, we offer a Next Day Exchange (NDE) plan for just $1,200 annually which includes all transportation costs, or local technician visits within 150 miles of Birmingham, AL, all repairs, excluding electrical or weather related damage, and use of an exchange unit if your unit requires repair.

There is nothing quite like Controller II at anywhere near the initial price, capability, or operating cost.  For more information, give us a call at 800. 489.2611, or you can order on line by clicking here

Monday, July 30, 2012

New SiteAlert detects and reports AC power failures at remote radio repeaters

Falcon Wireless has introduced the new SiteAlert, especially designed for 2-way radio users operating off-premise repeaters.  Three models are available in your choice of either VHF or UHF offering full compatibility with virtually all brands of analog radios and receivers.  

When activated, SiteAlert broadcasts a customized voice message, with or without paging alert tones for direct broadcast to ordinary 2-way radios. fixed monitor receivers such as our 2TR9 or personal radio pagers such as our WatchDog LT and M Series.  Customized programming is included in the price of each unit.  We also offer a low cost PC programming kit that provides user programming capability.

The SiteAlert Model  SA101, priced at $345, is a simple AC power failure reporting device that meets both ISO and NFPA power failure reporting standards.  The SA102, priced at $469, reports both power failure and power restoration.  This model is very well suited for users with generator backup since it announces power failure, power restoration when the generator comes on, and return of normal AC power.  The SA103, priced at $669 has all the features of the SA102 plus door alarm sensors to detect and report unauthorized entry.

The SA103 has capabilities that exceed those of any premise entry detection systems with instantaneous reporting.  No routing of calls to a remote security monitoring center is required.  Messages are broadcast directly over the users 2-way radio system and there are NO monthly charges.  AC power at the remote site is not required since all models can operate for up to one year from six internal AA batteries.  When the battery voltage is low, a low battery message is transmitted to alert the user to change the batteries. SiteAlert can pay for itself!  Your satisfaction is guaranteed! 

For more information, or to order, just give us a call at 205.854.2611, or drop us an email to ServingU@The-Communicators.net

Saturday, July 28, 2012

New Repeater Monitor can earn better ISO Rating!

Our fire department friends know all about ISO ratings and NFPA standards.  For the benefit of those who don't know so much about such things, let us just say that the lower the rating, the better the potential for reduced property insurance rates.

In general, the grade is based on resources (water), transportation (the ability to put the water or fire suppressant at the scene), manpower (to suppress and/or confine the fire), and time (as it equates to the speed of responding).  Falcon Direct is in the "time" business, or more specifically providing the infrastructure to quickly alert personnel (in particular volunteer personnel) and to provide the ability for dispatch to communicate with first responders, incident commanders, and support services.

After addressing the basics, the last 10% of the grade gets a little tougher.  It's kind of like going to school.  The first 70% of the grade can be obtained with relative ease (this equates to an ISO Class 7 rating which is pretty good) compared to a 9 which is not so good).  A Class 5 rating would be comparable to a "B" in school.  Anything below a 5 puts the department in the top 10% (compare this to an A-, A, or A+ as your rating drops).

You have to work for an "A" in school and you have to work for the lowest possible rating to best serve your community, both in terms of safety, property protection, and the lowest possible insurance rates.  We have a number of products available to help you get those lower ISO ratings.  The first is known as an InstalertR, (pronounced insta-lerter) exclusively offered by Falcon Wireless.

As you will note in the picture above, it is relatively small (not much larger than a desk calculator), easy to use (three lights and one button).  What it does is to INSTANTLY tell a dispatch operator if (a) the control radio at dispatch is not transmitting or (b) if an associated repeater is not transmitting, per ISO and NFPA standards.  This is the only product of it's type and it's only $1,549!  

If you are looking for a way to get a better ISO rating, the InstalertR is a simple and efficient solution.  It's available in either VHF or UHF and is compatible with all analog radio systems. For more information, just give us a call at 800.489.2611.  You'll be glad you did!

Monday, July 23, 2012

New Portable Radio Selection Guide Now Available!

As the requirement for narrow banding draws nearer, many 2-way radio users are finding that some of their portable radios cannot be converted to narrow band.  This essentially means these radios must be taken out of service or replaced.  Before making that decision; we think the logical first step might be to review what is available and THEN address the financial issues

We were invited to attend a volunteer fire department meeting last week to address the options.  We took five portable radios from the top four 2-way manufacturers with prices ranging from under $250 to under $500.  The radios were passed around and each member was asked to tell us which radio they would choose based purely on what they saw and their experience with other radios.  We did not provide any sales information or even disclose the prices, except to say that none of them cost over $500.

Surprisingly, everyone chose the same radio, and it wasn't the one we thought they would chose!  We'll be glad to tell you which one they chose, and why.  For the answer, just drop us an email to ServingU@falcondirect.com. In the meantime, Andy has prepared a little video that you may find to be of interest. Click here to see the video, along with links for more information.  You'll be glad you did! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Tale of Two Counties.......

As the deadline for narrow banding 2-way radios grows nearer, the potential for fear based tactics, sole source procurement, and lack of understanding create perfect storm conditions for misuse of public funds.  I'll give you an example. Within the last several weeks, two Alabama counties contracted to have their radios narrow banded.  The actual number of radios involved was about equal for both counties.  One paid over seventy thousand dollars.  The other paid eighteen HUNDRED dollars!

How does such a thing happen?  You already know the answer.  The good news is that it does NOT have to happen in your county or municipality or even to private business.  For the solution, just click here.  You'll be glad you did!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Disgruntled Dealer or Friend of the Taxpayer? Chapter 2

We’ve had some interesting comments since we threw the sword down and asked the Alabama DHS, the FCC, and FEMA to do their job relative to the proper administration of federal funds extended for the purchase and operation of approved communications equipment through the FEMA AFG program.

Some Firehouse Forum readers professed outrage that we would have the audacity to insist that those responsible for administering tax payer funds should do their job while simultaneously telling those who knowingly violate guidelines and regulations that there IS a price to pay for breaking the rules. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, even when it's wrong!

Notably, many folks apparently just cannot accept the fact that P25 is the interoperable communications standard – the only standard, and it has been the standard since the inception of the AFG program.  In cases of dispute, the normal procedure is to go to the highest level of information for the answer, so that's what I did.  Click here for the answer directly from FEMA.  Have a problem with that?  Click here for earlier comments.  If you are still not convinced,  click here for a link directly to the FEMA Responder Knowledge Base web site.  Let me ask you something - Do you see ANY MotoTRBO or NEXEDGE radios listed?  Do you see any PROPRIETARY Motorola almost kind of like P25 but closed standard Motorola equipment listed?  Do you seen ANYTHING besides P25 and analog?  If so, let me know!

The objective of interoperable communications is to provide the infrastructure to collectively deal with common emergencies rather than fulfilling personal goals. Not playing by the rules hurts everyone. Playing by the rules benefits everyone, or did I miss something?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Special Message to our Firehouse Forum Visitors

A portion of our recent July 2012 eNewsletter was posted by an unknown party, without permission; as a Firehouse Forum thread entitled Communicators Vendor trying to stick it to the FD's.  I think it would be safe to say that the one who posted this thread was no friend of Falcon Direct, or the undersigned personally.  However, he, she, or it is entitled to an opinion and the right to express that opinion. 

With that being said, I thought some of the comments on that thread were worthy of attention.  These comments have been addressed in a response which is available by clicking here. Suffice it to say, that no response will be made on the Forum since there is a link back to this page from the Forum. Have a safe and happy holiday!  Burch and all the gang!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Open for Debate - Angry Taxpayer or Disgruntled Dealer - You be the Judge!

I couldn't help but notice some of the comments on the Firehouse Forum thread regarding our July eNewsletter.  The originator of the thread seemed to feel that my reason for calling for adherence to the rules meant that I (and my company) were trying to "stick it to fire departments".  This seemed like a good lead in for my message of today

To begin, it should be noted that it is not possible to "stick it to someone" unless they have placed themselves in a position to be "stuck". Additionally, I go way beyond being a disgruntled vendor.  The fact is that my major concern should be the same as those I serve. Namely, I expect federal grant dollars to be spent for the specified purpose that benefits those who provided the money.  If, as taxpayers, we commit millions of dollars for the purpose of building an interoperable communications network, then I expect that money to be spent for the intended purpose.

Every purchaser has the obligation to stay within the published guidelines while getting the maximum return on investment.  I don't have a problem with purchasers having a vendor preference as long as the taxpayers are getting fair value for their investment. If that investment means purchasing closed standard systems or equipment that does not meet operational standards, THEN, I have a problem.

When an applicant has been granted funds for licensing a communications system by the FCC and then operates their system in a manner not consistent with FCC Rules and regulations, that is illegal and subject to fines and possible forfeiture of a radio operating license.  When that user places a system on shared frequencies using a centralized trunking system on VHF or UHF, they must either have FB8 repeater frequencies cleared of interference to other users, or consent from co-channel users if using standard FB2 repeater frequencies.

When the user, or their representative does not disclose the true facts regarding the operation of their radio system to the FCC, they can cause virtually total disruption of communications systems operated by other public safety agencies. Worse yet, when another agency complaints, these rule violators ignore the complaints with total indifference to the the harm caused by their actions.  It is THEN when I have a problem. 

So you see, it is much more than just selling (or not selling equipment).  It is about doing the right thing, for public safety agencies victimized by illegal radio operation by those who have little or no concern for others.  It is about stopping a continuing practice of vendors selling systems that lock the user into a proprietary source of equipment.  It is about a sales scheme that is totally contrary to the goal of true interoperability, and it is about being sick and tired of millions of taxpayer dollars being wasted by those who don't play by the rules. If that makes me a disgruntled vendor, so be it, but as things unwind, some of you are going to find there is a price to pay for breaking the rules.  If you think that's wrong, write your Congressman.  I did! 

Burch Falkner
At your service!

Monday, July 2, 2012

FEMA Confirms P25 Standard. Brickbats for some! Bouquets for others!

I have been asking for a clear definition of just exactly what is meant by the term P25 since 2007.  At last an answer has been given.  For those manufacturers like EF Johnson, Hytera, ICOM, Midland, Relm, and Tait; this is great news.  You have played by the rules.  For those that have not played by the rules and contributed to the waste of millions of taxpayer dollars and impeding of true interoperability, the news is not so good.

To those who play by the rules, I bestow upon you our bouquet award.  For those who don't I give your the brickbat award. You deserve it!  For those who are applying for a FEMA AFG grant this year, I encourage you to read the reply I received from FEMA by clicking here.  For those that have received FEMA grants within the last two years and spent all or part of your money on anything other than P25, get ready for an unpleasant surprise. If you recently were awarded a FEMA AFG grant and are planning to spend federal grant money for anything other than P25, you would be well advised to reconsider.  Click here for the latest update.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July eNewsletter is now on line

The Falcon Direct eNewsletter for July is now on line with some interesting developments on charges of ignoring federal guidelines, misuse of FEMA funds, and the illegal use of FCC frequencies by at least two Alabama fire department user groups, and a third apparently attempting a similar plan.

The DHS Inspector General, the FCC, FEMA, and other agencies are conducting separate investigations.  Congressman Spencer Bachus of Alabama has requested a full report with a response being expected later this month.  A complaint has also been filed through Governor Robert Bentley’s office against the director and top aids of the Alabama Department of Homeland Security for incompetence, negligence, unwillingness to discuss corrective measures and withholding information.

Additional information is available in our eNewsletter by clicking here.  If you would like to keep up with the progress of the aforementioned actions, type in your email address at the upper right hand corner of this page. 

New Public Safety Products Eligible for FEMA AFG Funding!

As public safety communications systems convert to narrow band, users are quickly learning that communications range is degraded, in particular for portable radio talk-back coverage.  There are several solutions as well as some other good ideas listed below:

The first is to add repeaters which often easier said than done.  Still it is a viable option if funds are available to cover the cost.  The FEMA Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) can be used for communications upgrades essential to safety of life and emergency response issues.

A Multiple Receiver Monitoring System (MRMS) allows you to install remote receivers in poor coverage areas to improve talk-back range from portables.In a typical application, a MRMS network consists of two or more remote receivers connected to a UHF link frequency between the remote locations and the main repeater site. The received signal from all locations (including the repeater) is measured by a device known as a Comparator.  The Comparator selects the best received signal and feeds that signal through the repeater.  Adding MRMS capability to an existing repeater may be the perfect solution for those who cannot add additional repeaters. 

One of the key benefits of MRMS is that no changes are required at dispatch.  However, if additional repeaters are required, the chances are good that it will be necessary to upgrade the dispatch center.  This can be VERY expensive.  The good news is that we now offer an efficient and affordable alternative to traditional consoles.  We call it Controller II.  You can read more about it by clicking here.

Speaking of things at dispatch, one of the major needs is the ability is to instantly know who a repeater fails.  Not knowing that a repeater is not working can have SERIOUS consequences!  The Insurance Safety Office (ISO) recognizes the need for failsafe repeater fault reporting which is why they offer additional rating points to fire departments with automatic fault reporting capabilities.  Until now, there have been no affordable solutions.  We've changed all that with the introduction of our new InstanlertR (Pronounced Instalerter). Now you can have automatic repeater failure alarm reporting for less than a thousand dollars!

All of the aforementioned items qualify for funding under the 2012 AFG program which closes on Friday, July 6th.  And, speaking of eligible items, did you know that you can have a complete phone and radio recording system that is also eligible for FEMA funding for less than $1,500? If you haven't yet submitted your AFG application; you may want to consider adding one or more of our special products especially offered to address the needs of public safety first responders. For additional information, just give us a call at 800.489.2611.