Why do public safety systems use VHF instead of UHF or 800/900 MHz?

Why do so many public safety systems stay on 150 MHz VHF (or heaven forbid, low band (27-50 MHz) VHF)?

  1. adjoining agencies with zero budget–can be mitigated with system linking hardware at the main site
  2. fireground mutual aid–this is standardized under NFPA 1221. Will each department keep radios for all adjoining departments? Console patch ties up resources.
  3. they use crossband repeaters in command vehicle for fireground/mutual aid

VHF systems often require voting receivers due to the poor performance of VHF portables. The body attenuation on a belt-mounted portable radio, particularly when using a speaker/mic on a VHF portable is of order 20 dB – only 1% of the transmitted signal gets out, maybe less.

If your agency is considering a radio refresh (major new purchase) talk to me first. I’m not in the business of selling radios. I provide professional expertise and I’m no favorite to any one technology or brand. The initial consultation as always is free, and I will work with your agency no matter how small to find a price that fits your budget. Your taxpayers can’t afford a wrong decision with 10-year consequences when so many peoples’ lives depend on your agency having the most effective communications.

Leave a Comment