After a fire this week at the Archer Daniels Midland ethanol distillery plant in Illinois, a local fire chief had this to say about the blaze his crews battled for nearly 11 hours: “The biggest problem that we had was the background noise,” said Peoria Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Morgan. “Radio communication was tough.” The fire caused more than $1 million in damages, but no one was hurt. A company spokesman was quoted as saying the cause was under investigation.
Background noise is an issue for many users of two-way radios, and it’s being addressed through education about best practices, new technologies, and new accessories. The International Association of Fire Chiefs started an investigation into the problem after it began receiving reports in 2006 about communications problems with digital two-way radios in close proximity to noise sources like self-contained breathing devices, low-air alarms, personal alert safety system devices, chainsaws, ventilation fans, and even pump panels on fire apparatus.
The IAFC Best Practices Task Group came back with numerous recommendations, involving such things as training personnel to use their radios in conjunction with other protective equipment, integrating communications policies and procedures into overall operations, and setting relevant standards to define what constitutes effective communications during an incident.
Subsequently, Motorola Solutions introduced Noise Shield 2, its advanced noise-reduction software for two-way radios. Noise Shield 2 keeps noise out, allowing for optimum performance and the effective encoding of speech. It works with both digital and analog radios, engages in less than a second, and allows for more than 20 configurable audio settings. Noise Shield was made available on several models, including the Motorola XTS2500 and Motorola XTS5000.
A host of accessories also combat background noise. One example is the noise-canceling speaker-microphone, such as the Motorola PMMN4045 and Motorola PMMN4051. Noise-canceling boom microphones also are integrated into heavy-duty headsets. Motorola’s IMPRES line of audio accessories is designed to help suppress ambient noise, amplify loudness, and improve voice intelligibility.
- Follow BearCom on Twitter
- Visit BearCom on Facebook
- Connect with BearCom on LinkedIn
- Watch BearCom’s Videos on YouTube
- Visit BearCom’s Website