Firefighting is a lot more complicated than it used to be. First responders must contend with larger and larger fires and differing circumstances. The advent of new technology on the job is one of the ways that we cope with those circumstances.

For example, most fire departments will equip their firefighters with two-way radios. The purpose of the firefighter radio is so that the firefighter can stay in contact with the incident commander and team. We carry these with us whenever we are on the job, regardless of whether we are in the station or out on the streets.

The question is, “When would you need to replace your firefighter radio?” Let’s look at some of the indicators that your firefighter radio needs to be replaced.

Signs That You Need a New Firefighter Radio

When your firefighter radio quits completely, you clearly know you need a new radio. But there are signs, smoking guns of sorts, that will tell you when to replace a fire radio before it quits on you completely. 

It’s important to understand that you can replace parts of the firefighter package, or you can purchase an entirely new fire radio package. This package would include things like: a CMD portable radio, a long-range antenna, clamshell batteries, a speaker mic with a 3.5 jack for your earphone, and a nylon case. 

The following signs indicate you need to start shopping for new fire radios. 

Damaged Antenna

Your antenna plays a critical role in transmitting signals. Without it, your radio will not work properly. 

If your antenna is cracked or beginning to crack, replace the radio. Your radio will not receive clear signals with a damaged antenna. 

The damage could come from use or trauma to the radio. If you’ve dropped your radio, always inspect it as soon as you can to make sure it hasn’t sustained damage. 

Unable to Reach Max Range

To keep everyone as safe as possible, your radio needs to reach its maximum range. If your radio continually cuts out at the maximum range or below it, consider replacing the radio. 

Grill Debris

All environments have debris unique to just them. In Florida, for example, sand tends to clog the grills of radios. In heavy machine shops, metal shavings get into the radio. 

Clogged grills will negatively impact sound quality. If you cannot clean the grill out adequately, it’s time to look for a new radio. 

Short Battery Life

Most fire radios have a rechargeable internal battery. As the model ages, its battery will hold its charge for less and less time. If your battery isn’t lasting as long as you need it to, then look into replacing your battery or radio. 

Reception Problems

When your radio won’t consistently receive a signal, it may just be a small fix. If you cannot find visible damage, start looking for a loose antenna first.

Poor-functioning radios could include dropped voices altogether or just a staticky conversation.  

Unfortunately, often the problem isn’t visible or easy to find, though. You could have an issue with circuitry in the radio itself. If that’s the case, it’s time to look for a new radio. 

Clogged Ports

Whether you carry your radio in your pocket, on your hip, or on your shoulder, debris will clog the ports. Clean out the ports to the best of your ability regularly. 

However, if you cannot adequately clean the ports, look into replacing your radios. Severe clogs simply will not come out or will take too much effort to clean. 

Compromised Screen

If your screen has sand particles in it, you will not be able to see a clear picture. Debris ends up behind the screen often, compromising your ability to read the message. 

Advanced two-way radios have touchscreens, but even these will lose their responsiveness with debris. 

Regardless of where the sand enters, debris behind the screen causes cracks and scratches. It’s also almost impossible to remove. If you have a damaged radio, bring it to a professional to see if they can fix it or clean it properly. 

Otherwise, it’s time to look into replacing your radio. 

Outdated Radios

Because two-way radios have a fairly long life, they need updating even before they die. Outdated radios mean you cannot communicate as easily with newer radio systems. 

If you have an old but still functioning radio, look into what technology could better serve your entire organization. 

Looming Season

If your busy season is a month away, now is the time to replace your radios. Do not wait until your season is in full swing to replace your most important technology. 

If the past few have taught us anything, it’s that goods can be hard to come by. So do not wait until you absolutely need an upgrade. Purchase new radios during the down season. 

How Often Should You Replace Your Firefighter Radio?

If you currently have just analog radios, it’s time to replace them with digital radios. Do not let more than ten years pass before you replace one of your most important firefighting tools: your radio. 

What Are the Benefits of Replacing Your Firefighter Radio?

Replacing your radio means you’ll have reliable communication for maximum reach. You’ll benefit most, though, if you have a hybrid system that can switch between analog and digital. 

When you have a hybrid system, you can ensure your radios will connect with any system. If your organization has many radios and you’re experiencing problems with your analog system, it’s time to move completely to digital. 

Evaluate and Replace

While you’re in the less busy season, evaluate your radios. Have you had them for more than ten years? Do you have debris stuck in your screens, and do they struggle to reach maximum distance? 

When too much time has passed and the radios quit, you no longer need to ask about when to upgrade firefighting tools. It will be obvious

Are you looking for a new firefighter radio or overall firefighting equipment? If so, contact us. We can give you a quote today and get your organization talking once again.