Hot Sheet News

External Power Cables for Several NIFC Kits

Frequency Changes for 2018

Equipment Changes for 2018

Auxiliary Group (AUX GRP) Issue in DPH radios

Coordination Procedures for Aeronautical Frequencies to Support Emergency Firefighting

End of Factory Support for All E-Series and Some G-Series Relm/BK Radios

Relm Clamshell Difficulties

NFES # 4390 Radio Starter System Configuration

Relm BK EPH/EMH Radio Interstitial Safety Issue

Bad Batteries? Bad Clamshells? What to look for.

Pocket Radio Use Guides



Under the authority of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the DOI and USDA have designated specific frequencies nationwide for assignment and use by NIFC to support their all-risk management missions. The radio frequency assignments are Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) release-exempt and are to be protected as "Sensitive Data."

If you have any questions concerning the above, feel free to contact the Communications Duty Officer (CDO) or Mike Tuominen.

Current Radio Software Versions (as of 8/2016):

Radio Software in Radio Channel Programming Software Radio Tuning Software
BK DPHX 31688543 Version 3.5.3 N/A
Cobham (aka NAT) NPX136D 1.50 1.00 N/A
Codan (aka Daniels) "D" N/A Version 1.1 N/A
Codan (aka Daniels) "R" N/A Version 2.9.1 N/A
Codan (aka Daniels) "E" Receiver N/A Version N/A
Codan (aka Daniels) "E" Transmitter N/A Version N/A
Midland VHF 1.03.4646 5.24.0001 N/A
Midland UHF 1.02.4386 5.24.0001 N/A
Motorola XTS 2500 R17.01.01 R20.00.00 R05.04.03
Technisonic TDFM-136 3.2.1 2.6.0 N/A
Technisonic TDFM-136A 3.2.1 2.6.0 N/A
Technisonic TDFM-136B Main Code 1.5.2 2.6.0 N/A
Thales 8.3 Version 5.0 N/A

Most radios display the radio's operating software version when the radio is first turned on.

For Motorola XTS2500 & XTS 5000:
View software version by: Turn radio on. Press 2nd gray button (it has 2 dots) on left side 5 times. Radio enters service mode. Software version is the first number displayed. Turn radio off and then on again to reset after checking software version. DO NOT USE your radio until it is reset.

Contact your local radio technician to update your radio's software.

External Power Cables for Several NIFC Kits

Several NIFC kits are currently capable of using external power. To make adapter cables to power NIFC repeaters from external power sources use the part numbers and connector pinouts from the following drawings: Battery Cable Drawing (alkaline) and Solar Panel Cable. External power should be capable of supplying 4 amps (maximum) and a voltage of between 12.3 VDC to 16 VDC. Although the repeater will run on voltages down to 10 VDC, the external power source must initially be above 12.3 VDC to overcome hysteresis in the voiceboard. Once the hysteresis is overcome, the voiceboard will power the repeater from the external power source down to 10.2 VDC. Contact Bill Forsyth for more information.

Frequency Changes for 2018

All NIRSC equipment has been reprogrammed to meet the National Telecommunications and Information Administrations (NTIA) 2019 requirements.

DO NOT use old frequency pocket cards written prior to 2018.

All 2018 NIICD frequency schemes for NFES 004381 and 004244 radios have the official markings "Controlled Unclassified Information//Basic" and must be stored and disseminated accordingly. They may be sent to interagency email addresses but not to non-official emails (i.e. Gmail or AOL email accounts). COML or COMT personnel should contact their GACC for the new frequencies. The GACC can then inform them how to access their secure site to obtain this information, or they may send it to a government email account.

This information will also be stored on the NIFC FPT site under the radio_management folder 2018 frequency information. Access to this folder will require a NAP user name and password. The NIFC CDO Coordinator (Gary Stewart) and several others in the NIICD  will be able to grant access to this folder on the FTP site. This can be done with an email to request access. Once the email is received the personnel granting permission will inform the individual requesting access the steps that have to be taken to be granted access.

Contact Gary Stewart for more information.

Equipment Changes for 2018 - Refer to the NIRSC User's Guide for setup and installation guidance

The following changes have been made to all Command Repeaters (004312), Logistical Repeaters (004248), and Aircraft Links (004370):

Equipment Setup

New bulkhead connectors have been installed on the above equipment to provide a weatherproof interface with the internal equipment and the external cables. This will reduce moisture and condensation within the kit boxes.

Voice Boards - Voice Boards are now installed in all of the above kits. When using a solar panel this board allows the user to remotely query the equipment to obtain battery voltage and equipment temperature.

Battery Covers

A removable cover is installed on all alkaline batteries in the above kits to prevent the terminals from being shorted. DO NOT dispose of these covers, return with kit.

Command Repeaters
The Command Repeater (004312) kits will now ship in 2 boxes due to shipping weight restrictions. This second box is identical to the second box that comes with an Aircraft Link (004370).

Power Connectors
All internal power connectors (Jones Plug and Socket) have been replaced with Anderson Power Pole connectors (PP1545). These new connectors are also in the Remote Kits (004330).

Desiccant Packs
Now included in all equipment to reduce moisture and humidity. DO NOTdiscard desiccant packs.

RF Cables

All NIRSC RF cables now use "N" connectors. The NIRSC no longer uses any UHF RF cables. Any NIRSC antenna or component manufactured with a UHF connector has had an N adapter permanently attached to that UHF connector.

Contact Kent Gale for more information.

Frequency Distribution Requirements

Subject: NMAC Correspondence 2017-16 Frequency Distribution Requirements Update

NMAC Correspondence 2017-16

July 14, 2017

To: Geographic Area Coordination Groups, Incident Management Teams, Communications Unit Leaders, and Communications Technicians

From: National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group

Subject: Frequency Distribution Requirements and Air Tanker Base Directory Update

The purpose of this memo is to provide information about new requirements for radio frequency distribution. It also serves to inform the community of the misprinted Air Tanker Base Directory and corrective action taken.

All documents that contain frequencies must be labeled at the top and bottom of each page with a disclaimer that says, Controlled Unclassified Information//Basic. Steps are being taken to update I-Suite to meet these requirements in the future. Additionally, work is being completed to edit any ICS forms hosted by NWCG while also coordinating with DHS/FEMA and FireScope. Any locally/personally controlled versions of ICS documents that you may have, that contain frequency information, must also display this disclaimer at the top and bottom of each page.

Errors were found in the Air Tanker Base Directory printed May 2017. This issue has been corrected and the directory is being republished. Please ensure that the version dated "June 2017" is used. The corrected electronic version is currently on the NIFC FTP site as well as secure password protected sites at various GACCs. All versions now contain the Controlled Unclassified Information label.

/s/ Dan Buckley
Chair, NMAC

Relm-BK Radios Reach End of Life Cycle

Relm/BK will no longer support four older models of radios due to these radios reaching the end of their life cycle. These radios are: DPH5102X, GPH5102X, GMP5992X and GPH5992R. These four radio types will still be accepted as Fire Approved. Contact Kent Gale for more information. See the attached information from Relm/BK.

Auxiliary Group (AUX GRP) Issue in DPH radios

Some DPH/DPHx radios that are behaving strangely may have corrupted programming. The corruption comes from being cloned from a GPH or DPH that has Auxiliary Group programming. See the following document. Contact Kim McCutchan for further questions. (7/2014)

Coordination Procedures for Aeronautical Frequencies to Support Emergency Firefighting
In November 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finalized the "Coordination Procedures for Aeronautical Frequencies to Support Emergency Firefighting Requirements" document. This document is an agreement between the FAA's Spectrum Engineering Group and the National Interagency Fire Center, National Interagency Incident Communications Division's Communications Duty Office. It identifies the requirements and procedures for requesting Air-to-Air AM (Victor) frequencies in the support of wildland project fires and all risk incidents. Read the document here.Contact Gary Stewart for further questions.(3/2013)

End of Factory Support for All E-Series and Some G-Series Relm/BK Radios
Relm/BK gave notice on July 12, 2012 that they will end support of all E-series radios and certain G-series radios after December 21, 2012. Read the document here. Contact Kim McCutchan for further questions. (3/2013)

Relm Clamshell Difficulties

The NIICD has found a problem with some Relm clamshells. Clamshell lot #42-05 (printed on the top of the clamshell) are almost impossible to put on radios and once on, very difficult to remove. The NIICD is currently removing these clamshells from our inventory. Although other clamshells can be difficult to put on/take off Relm radios, they are still usable. Contact Kim McCutchan for more information. (7/2012)

NFES # 4390 Radio Starter System Configuration

Due to the removal of over 3000 Relm model EPH, VHF radios caused by the interstitial frequency safety issue (see below), you will see some NFES # 4390 Starter Systems configured with the Datron Guardian radios.This is being done to supplement the NIFC/NIRSC shortage of VHF command/tactical radios with fire certified radios already in the NIRSC inventory. Contact the CDO for more information.  (6/2012)

Relm BK EPH/EMH Radio Interstitial Safety Issue

The Relm BK EPH/EMH radio will not tune to FCC issued interstitial frequencies. State and local agencies are completing the FCC mandated migration to narrowband. Consequently, interstitial frequency assignments are increasing. Effective January 1, 2013, the EPH/EMH will be removed from the NIFC NIICD Approved Radio list. View the Relm BK EPH/EMH Radio Interstitial Frequency Safety Issue letter and Approved Radio letter. Contact the CDO for more information. (5/12)

Bad Batteries? Bad Clamshells? What to look for.

Here is something you can check if you ever run into the situation where you load brand new AA batteries into a clamshell battery holder and attach it to a radio only to find that the radio will not power up.
Clamshell battery holders are designed so that in the event that a AA battery is placed backwards into the holder no electrical connection is made. This is accomplished by a molded plastic shoulder placed on each side of the positive spring-steel contact in the clamshell holder. These shoulders extend beyond the positive spring-steel contact of the holder (see diagram below) which will allow only the positive post of the AA battery to make electrical connection. The negative side of the AA battery is flat so the shoulders of the clamshell holder will prevent an electrical connection when a battery is placed backwards.

The ANSI tolerances for the physical dimensions of the AA battery are broad and we have found some positive battery posts are just short enough as to not make connection with the spring-steel contact even though the battery still meets the standards. To correct the problem you can take a small screwdriver and with the batteries removed, bend the positive spring-steel contact further away from the clamshell holder body but not beyond the molded plastic shoulders in order to reestablish electrical connection. For further information, contact Bob Dukart. (5/12)

Bad battery and clamshell diagram

Pocket Radio Use Guides

All kits containing handheld radios, except Relm BK kits, will be shipped with pocket radio use guides. Contact Mike Tuominen for more information. (2/12)

Replacement of NFES 1233 Hotshot Batteries

The 6 volt Hotshot Batteries (NFES 1233) are no longer available in the cache system. These batteries were used in the NFES 4410 PA kit and NFES 4330 Remote kit. They have been replaced by the NFES 1023 7.5 volt Repeater Batteries, which are direct replacements for the Hotshot Batteries. Contact Bill Forsyth for more information.

Fire Loses Three FM Frequencies, Exclusive Use of Three AM Frequencies, and One Command Repeater Pair.

Fire has permanently lost one tactical FM frequency (164.1375 MHz) and two aviation FM frequencies (166.6875 and 171.1375 MHz). They have been reassigned. Fire has also lost exclusive use of three AM air-to-air frequencies (122.225, 122.425, and 122.575 MHz). The FAA has informed fire that these frequencies are the FAA's and that they will only be issued to fire once existing frequency assignments are used. Command Repeater Pair C7 (162.9625 Rx, 171.7875 Tx) have been removed from fire use. See the information letter here. Contact the CDO for more information. (4/2011)

New procedure to enable/disable CTCSS tones.

Daniel's repeaters no longer have a CTCSS on/off switch. To disable tones turn Switch A to position 16. To enable tones turn Switch A to position 1 thru 15. See Daniels Switch Configuration (pdf) (4.4 MB)

NIRSC will be deploying a new version of the Daniels NFES 4312 VHF Command Repeater/Link and the Daniels NFES 4248 Logistics Repeater starting FY2010.

This version has a new repeater control card that enables the use of CTCSS tones on transmit and receive.

The new RC-4L card is located in the left-most slot of the chassis. It has four (4) RJ-45 type ports marked TXA, RXA, TXB, RXB and two (2) 16-position selection switches marked “TXA and RXA Channel” and “TXB and RXB Channel”. For the 4312 Command Repeater, the patch cords from the left-most set of transmitter and receiver sides ‘A’ mate with the TXA and RXA on the RC-4L card and the right-most set ‘B’ mate with the TXB and RXB. The 16-position selection switch marked “TXA and RXA” controls the VHF encode/decode CTCSS tones with position ‘16’ using no encode/decode tones. The 16-position switch marked “TXB and RXB Channel” controls the frequencies used on the UHF link.

In the case of the NFES 4248 Logistics Repeater the patch cords will only go to side ‘A’ and the two (2) 16-position switches located on the RC-4L card will not change the configuration of the repeater and can be considered disabled. See Daniels Switch Configuration (pdf) (4.4 MB)

Communications Training
COMC, COML, COMT, COM Refresher, and P25 aviation radio training courses are available. Visit the Technical Training page for more information.

NIRSC/NIICD staffing and radio equipment support for training events must be coordinated well in advance of planned events. Our support for training events is dependent upon equipment and staffing availability. It is NIICD policy that equipment issued for training purposes be accompanied by a NIICD specialist. Generally, costs associated with the use of our equipment for training are paid by the training sponsor. Contact Susan Bleeg for incident communications training support, Mike Tuominen for field training support, and Frank Smith for aviation training support. (11/09)

Radios Approved for Fire
An updated consolidated fire-approved radio list is available. (3/11/16)

Family Radio Service Radios
Family Radio Service (FRS) communications equipment shall not be used by anyone associated with federal wildland fire incidents or in instances that safeguard human life or property. This applies to agency, military, and contractor personnel. NTIA Manual, section 7.5.8, states: “federal entities may not purchase and operate FRS radios for planned communications operations that safeguard human life or property”. Additionally, the Departments of Agriculture and Interior have policies limiting the use of FRS radios.

There is a viable option called Intra-Squad Radio (ISR). These radios are used by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) for tactical communications and the NIICD has been given authorization to operate on the frequencies. For those personnel and crews who may have been operating with FRS radios and wish to utilize ISR, please contact the Communications Duty Officer (CDO) or Mike Tuominen for more information. (4/20/09)

Radio Programming Pocket Guides
The NIRSC User's Guide now contains Radio Programming Pocket Guides for all the NIICD handheld radios. Radio programming pocket guides, can be found on the NIICD Documents page. Contact Jose Lopez for more information. (3/12)

FCC Frequency Incompatibility
The FCC has begun to issue frequencies that have 7.5 kHz channel spacing. Many older analog USFS and DOI radios cannot operate on these new frequencies. See the attached message for more information. Contact Bob Dukart for more information. (7/07)

Blank Incident Radio System Diagrams
See Incident Radio System Diagram PDFs to be used in the design and organization of an incident's communication system. (2/12)

Multimode (P25) Radio Purchasing
NIICD will purchase only multimode digital radios in the future. Analog radios will be replaced during normal replacement cycles. Contact Mike Tuominen for more information. (1/07)


In the Spotlight
photo of wildland fire and operations