Sunday, November 30, 2014

Message to Fire and EMS AFG 2014 grant applicants. Read this before you file!

To all of those who may think FEMA and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant is one big sugar daddy with lots of money to give away, we have some news for you. Many applicants have completely ignored the standards and guidance pertaining to communications on the assumption that "they" are not going to enforce it, "I know because Billy Bob got away with breaking the rules, so they're not coming after me". Guess again!

The fact is that kindly old Uncle FEMA has a couple of rather significant cousins, notably the Department of Justice (DOJ) who provides oversight of FEMA's activities (and those who receive FEMA funding), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who has responsibility for enforcement and prosecution of violators.  Here's another bit of information.  They have a LONG memory, which can be made even longer through the Subpoena process. And, for what it's worth; charges for fraud, deception, and misappropriation of funds are felonies! This isn't some little civil matter that goes away with the slap of the wrist.  It is the same process that gave Bernie Madoff the opportunity to meet some new kids!  So, what's the point?

The point is simply this - DHS, FEMA, and SAFECOM, along with DOJ, and the FBI agree that rules are rules, and here are the rules, plainly stated in the guidance that every applicant certifies that they have read when making an application for a communications equipment grant involving federal funds. 

(1) All RADIOS will be be capable, when ordered, to operate in the digital mode in accord with current P25 standards, not "compliant", not upgradeable or convertible, or using a similar technical platform such as MotoTRBO, NXDN, Astro 25 or anything else other than P25, PERIOD! Click here for additional information.

(2) All RADIOS must be based on a common interoperable standard that will allow one brand of radio to talk to another brand of radio using a common P25 technical platform, PERIOD!

3) Maintenance of all RADIOS can NOT be used as an evaluation consideration that becomes the basis for selecting a sole source vendor with an exclusive third party service agency, PERIOD!

If the radios you intend to purchase, or HAVE purchased, or the system on which you intend to operate your radios violates one or more of the three considerations above, you could find yourself in a whole lot of trouble!  Could we be wrong in our understanding of the aforementioned standards?  Maybe, maybe not, but we can tell you this.  The Wall Street Journal recently disclosed that the Department of Justice is cracking down on potential abusers of federal grant funded projects such as the Assistance to Firefighters program.  We know of several agencies that are now being audited on applications going back to 2010, and at least one that has been handed over for a federal grand jury investigation.

If you are planning to file for AFG funding for communications equipment, we urge you to make sure that you address and resolve the three major issues above before submitting your application (Due on or before 5:00 PM EST,December 5, 2014. In the meantime, your may want to download and read DOJ Grant Oversight by clicking here.  We think you'll find it interesting.

BTW, if you would like some good suggestions on what DOES meet the guidelines, click here.  Good luck with your application!  Let us know if we can be of assistance in any way.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Which Wireless Headset System Is Best For YOU?

Wireless headsets are increasing in popularity by a variety of users.  Traditionally, fire departments have been the major users of protective headsets, but needs are changing. Many need the ability to connect to 2-way radios.  Other simply want intercom capability and still others require hands free communications capability. After all the smoke (pun intended) has cleared, it appears that the two major contenders for providing wireless hands free headsets are FireCom (Sonetics) and Multi-Voice Radio (MVR).

Some users, such as Industrial Plants, Crane & Heavy Equipment Operators, Football Coaches, and large Wrecker operators have different needs than EMS, Fire and Law Enforcement SWAT team users. Each user group will have special requirements.  The trick is to pick the headset that is right for YOU!

To help you make the right choice, please visit for an introduction to the only long range digital system that doesn't require a base station or WiFi connection.  The MVR system can be used as a stand alone wireless intercom and/or as a long range extension for 2-way radios. After reviewing the MVR capabilities, you can learn more about FireCom wireless headsets, and how they compare to MVR by clicking here.

Which wireless headset system is best for you?  That decision is up to you.  Our job is to give you the information required to make the RIGHT decision.  For additional information or a demonstration, just give us a call at 205.854.2611, or drop us an email to


Monday, November 24, 2014



If you are tired of getting the best price, but not the best value; it's time to switch to the Phoenix speaker-microphone, an American made product tested to perform a minimum of 1,000,000 PTT activations, IP68 waterproof, and MIL-SPEC 810G military specification standards. The price is competitive and it's manufactured in the United States of America! 

Bedford County, Virginia is revamping their present LMR radio system with additional towers, new Harris XG-75 radios and Stone Mountain Phoenix speaker-microphones with the new patent pending CallCheck message store, record, playback and re-transmit feature. Two hundred speaker mic's have been ordered to date, with more orders coming in as outlying districts and departments are exposed to the Phoenix's audio performance, quality, features and rugged design. Click here for a video from Channel 13, WSET-TV in Roanoke, VA announcing the P25 upgrade with Phoenix speaker-microphones!  If you are involved with fire department communications, and planning to apply for 2014 AFG funding, you want to include the Phoenix speaker-microphone with the incredible new CallCheck capability!  Call us at 205.854.2611 for pricing, additional information, or a demonstration. You'll quickly see why others are switching from ordinary speaker-microphones to the Phoenix from Falcon Wireless! (Note: CallCheck feature is available for use with BK, Harris, and Tait P25 radios. Motorola to be available shortly). 

Don't forget, the 2014 AFG funding submission period ends on December 5th, 2014!  If you haven't yet filed an application, there is still time.  For some good ideas, click here

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Good news for perplexed school principals.......

Sometimes, things just don't work as they should!  A good case in point is communicating with school bus drivers from the school office.  Many school systems have 2-way radios installed in their buses as well as radios in the schools.  That's good!  What's not so good is that the only radio in the school that can talk to buses on the road is the office radio. The portables generally won't talk out from inside the building!

The school office radio is generally connected to an outside antenna. This allows the office staff to talk to buses while transporting students to and from their homes.  The problem is that many situations require involvement by the principal or other administrative staff.  In such times, they have to come to the front office to talk to the bus driver. We are frequently asked "why can't I talk from my walkie talkie?" The answer is you need the power of a desktop radio and an outside antenna.  Walkie talkies are great for communicating inside the building or for bus loading, even on trips; but not for talking from inside the building to buses.

The solution is a plug in device which we call the BlueBox SX (Click here for more information).  You just plug it in to the accessory connector of your existing office radio.  We have models available for most popular brands of radios including Motorola, Kenwood, Icom, etc.  The price is just $695 plus the cost of reprogramming administrative radios with a control channel to access the BlueBox ($38 for the first walkie talkie and $8 for each additional radio). With this inexpensive change, any administrative radio can monitor bus communications from anywhere in the school and talk to bus drivers directly from their office!

Speaking of walkie talkies, we've got a new little walkie talkie built especially for school administrators. This isn't a radio built for construction workers, firemen, or road crews.  This radio is built for school administrators!  We are currently offering a fantastic trade in program for your old radio (Click here for details).  As for the BlueBox, we will be delighted to arrange a demonstration. Just give us a call at 205.854.2611 or drop us an email to

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Digital Response Paging, the ultimate public safety dispatch system qualifies for AFG funding!!

In a recent blog posting, we commented on a proposal to use private digital paging as an alternative to the use of analog pagers such as Minitor VI.  Many public safety dispatch systems suffered from degraded coverage as a result of narrow banding. The are three possible solutions - Cellular phones using text messaging (which doesn't meet NFPA 1221 requirements), one-way private paging and the newest technology, known as Response Paging.

Response Paging has a number of benefits for public safety users.  Monroe County, NY (Rochester) was an early adopter of Response Paging (Click here for additional information). Not only does Response Paging resolve coverage issues, it also improves interoperability and incident command while simultaneously reducing the size, weight, and cost of first responder alerting devices. Response Pagers can also provide message retention/recall, private messaging, and greater user convenience.

The infrastructure and user devices qualify for funding under the 2014 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (which closes on December 5, 2014).  Additional benefits of Response Paging include the use of these devices configured for use as emergency call buttons by disabled, elderly, and home alone citizens for Direct Alert notification to EMS responders within 5 seconds or less! These devices can be used in schools, hospitals, municipal and county offices. A similar device can be connected to smoke detectors and other sensors to automatically report fires, unauthorized entry or vandalism as well as in hospitals for patient alarm and Code Blue reporting.  An example of how this all comes together is available by clicking here.

Law enforcement can use the system to provide direct alarm notification from merchant premises to report burglary and holdup.The merchant pays only for the devices.  There are no monthly fees or any telephone (cellular or wired) required). It's still not to late to get an application submitted for funding!  For additional information, please give us a call at 205.854.2611 or drop us an email to  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Have you seen our new school teacher radio?

Get our new teacher radio for just a little more than the cost of a battery!

And, NO BELT IS REQUIRED! That's because it comes with a free neck strap and it's about half the weight and size of the radios you are probably now using! (Click on picture for better product view).

For a limited time only, we will take your old radio in trade and give your a brand new Teacher Radio for just $89 net exchange! That's only about $20 more than your would normally pay for a factory original replacement battery! All we ask is that your trade-in radio be UHF, in working condition, with all accessories included (i.e. antenna, battery, charger, and clip).

This means your that your new lightweight (4.8 ounce) compact (3.94 x 1.89 x 1.06") radio can easily worn around your neck as shown above.  It's small enough to fit into a shirt pocket or clipped to your lapel.  It's always right where you need it, and you'll never drop it or knock it off your belt.

If you don't have anything to trade, pay just $149, still an OUTSTANDING value. Our teacher radio will last all day (up to nine work hours) before charging is required and a handy desktop charger is included! Complete specifications are available at When you are ready to order, just give us a call at 205.854.2611 or drop us an email to

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why buy a new battery when you can have a new radio for about the same cost?

CP Battery or CS Radio?

The Motorola CP200 has been one of the best selling radios in the USA for a long, long time!  So long, in fact that it is being discontinued.  Now you are faced with the decision to replace batteries and maintain what you have, or look at something new. We would like to offer a suggestion.......

A factory original replacement battery for the CP200 lists for $79. You can buy cheaper batteries, but you never know that you are getting original Motorola quality and performance. With that thought in mind, consider this.  For a limited time*, you can trade in any working CP200 radio for our new CS Series radio for a net cost difference of just $89 plus shipping.

The CS Radio is smaller and lighter than the CP200, yet it meets the same performance standards (5 watts VHF or 4 watts UHF with 16 channels and scan).  Both radios meet MIL-SPEC 810F but the CP200 is only IP54 rated.  The CS Series has the higher IP65 rating for maximum protection from dust and moisture. The CS Series has built in MDC1200 and 2-tone paging PLUS audible channel announce and TWICE the audio output power of the CP200!  Got some audio accessories like speaker-mics or headsets?  Here's some good news - Your CP200 audio accessories will work with the CS Series radios!

So the bottom line is that you can have a brand new radio with factory warranty for about $20 more than the cost of a replacement battery!  If you have anything to trade, you can purchase the CS Series radio (your choice of VHF or UHF with free programming) for just $149 plus shipping.  Want more information?  Want to try one?  Want references?  Just give us a call at 800.489.2611.  Don't miss out.  Call us today!

* Offer subject to cancellation without notice.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ever been stuck on an elevator? This message may be just for you!

What's missing here?

Ever been stuck on an elevator?  NOT a good experience! Some elevators have emergency call buttons.  Some don't. Even the ones that have call buttons may have a problem if there is a power failure.  Even if the power is still on, how do your know where the call goes or if anyone is there to answer?

The fact is that in the event of an elevator stoppage, you want help, and you want it in a hurry, regardless of whether the power is on or off, regardless of whether or not your cell phone works or doesn't.  

How do you get the help in a hurry? The answer is an OuterCom wireless radio call box that connects directly to security and/or maintenance personnel on the premises equipped with VHF or UHF 2-way radios. That's a picture of a wireless call box on the right.  

They don't cost much - less than $500, and the installation requires no wiring.  It takes just a few minutes to become fully operational with no AC power required! The OuterCom emergency call box operates for up to one year from just six "D" cell batteries.  It even tells you when it's time to change batteries.OuterCom works with most analog conventional or trunked VHF or UHF radios.  

If you don't have 2-way radios, we can provide low cost portable radios that require no FCC license or we can set them up for use on existing 2-way radio systems.  Is the peace of mind of knowing that you can get help in a hurry and talk to those coming to your aid worth $500?  You'll have to answer that for yourself.  As for most of us, it could be a life saver - well worth the small cost. Additional information and/or a demonstration available on request.  Just give us a call at 800.489.2611 or email

Friday, November 7, 2014

Digital pagers a solution to analog pager loss or range caused by narrow banding?

We noted with interest a recent article suggesting the use of digital pagers to provide reliable notification to volunteer firefighters that were have coverage issues with narrow band analog pagers. While we agree that a privately owned digital paging network can meet both operational and compliance (ISO) issues, it is not necessarily the best economic choice.  Alphanumeric paging is a a quarter century old technology and extremely limited in operational capability. Or, saying it another way, it is less than half a solution.  Fortunately, there is a similar solution based on advanced digital paging technology that has 2-way capability along with the ability to monitor and report assault, burglary, fire, robbery, and emergency medical assistance.

The system infrastructure is no more expensive than the examples in the article published by Radio Resource magazine.  The difference is that 2-way digital paging system can actually provide a payback by using a combination of technology and community planning.  For example, digital paging addresses only the ability to notify personnel in times of need.  2-way digital paging allows a person with medical needs, or a person being robbed or assaulted, to use the same device to summon help.  Calls from the 2-way pager can be sent to others with 2-way pagers or cellphones in the immediate area (business, governmental, institutional, or residential) for instant response.  The primary responders can directly summon EMS, Fire, or Law Enforcement at the touch of a button. The use of 2-way digital technology can actually REDUCE the number of emergency medical calls and false alarms by partnering with members of the community; a win-win proposition for all concerned!

A variation of the 2-way digital pager is available for premise monitoring and notification.   These devices can be directly connected to commercial alarm systems to provide direct notification to first responders.  Case in point - rural churches are frequent targets of arsonists, thieves, and vandals; along with fires caused by lightning, electrical malfunctions etc.  Both the personal and the fixed version of the 2-way digital pager can send text messages directly to PCs, cell phones, or other digital 2-way devices.  In a rural area, it is not uncommon to experience delays of up to a half hour when using a commercial alarm service, 911, and available first responders.  With 2-way digital technology, church officials, the local volunteer fire department, merchants, and even neighbors can be alerted within 10 seconds or less!

Better yet, this technology may be eligible for FEMA grant funding under the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program which is currently open for submission of applications.  The closing date for submission of grant applications ends on December 5th, 2014. A free Planner is available by clicking here.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A message to Mayors, Fire and Police Chiefs - We can make your city a better place to live, work, and play!

We've got a system.  It's called SparkGap.  It consists of Hives, Hornets, and Harkeners. Together, they work to make your city a better place to live, work, and play.  A few of the benefits are shown above.  There are more! You can learn more about them by clicking here.

We can do some incredible things, like reducing response time from minutes (sometimes hours) to SECONDS!  We can help save lives and property while reducing the cost of providing EMS, Fire, and Police protection. We can free up your public safety personnel to deal with high level priorities while merchant and residential participants partner with you to help improve safety, reduce the cost of government services and insurance costs.  

As the word gets around, your community will become a go to destination for new business and homeowners. That means more revenues and happy voters.  Here's some more good news!  The cost of system can potentially be underwritten by federal funding, private endowments and user cost sharing.  One of the funding sources available is the Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) program.  The application period for 2014 opened on November 3rd and closes on December 5th.  Additional information on this program is available by clicking here or just by calling us at 205.854.2611. Better yet, schedule a meeting with us for our Community Planning Presentation.  Your choice of meeting place - Birmingham, AL or Norcross, GA, and day (including Saturday) between now and the end of November. Your time will be well spent!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

At Last - A security system that gets help in a hurry with no monthly fees or contract!

Our new SiteSentry is designed especially for users in rural areas where response time is slow, by groups of people working together (business, residential, church and volunteer fire departments), by those wanting the fastest possible response time, and those who don't want a continuing monthly charge.

The typical home, church, or business security system requires a phone line (or cell phone service), a long term contract, and a monthly alarm monitoring fee.  Calls must be routed through a commercial alarm monitoring center, then to 911, and finally to law enforcement or fire and rescue as applicable.

The typical response time is ten minutes or more in urban areas.  In rural areas the response time can easily be 45 minutes or more.  Compare that to the typical response time using our new SiteSentry  system which averages two minutes or less! SiteSentry can be in touch with first responders while a conventional security system is still dialing the call to the alarm monitoring center! And, there are no long term contracts, monthly fees, or complicated installation procedures requiring the services of specialized installers. With SiteSentry, you can do everything yourself in just a few minutes. SiteSentry can protect people, property, and places! Want to know more? Click here!

Our November 2014 eNewsletter is now on line with lots of good information for our Business, Church, Fire Department, Industrial, and School readers.  Click here to view!