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MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > SCIP Monthly Update May 2009

SCIP Monthly Update May 2009


May 12, 2009


State’s Interoperability Vision

The State of Maine will have a firmly established, formally managed and maintainable communications environment, based on technology, protocols, training and usage, that will provide seamless communications capability to all emergency management, first responder, and response support organizations at the local, regional and State levels, enabling them to exchange information via voice and data means, as required by standard NIMS response procedures, to provide effective, coordinated and timely all hazards response to our citizens.

State Interoperability Communications Coordinator

The Communication Survey results: Download here in Microsoft Excel format from the MEMA Comunications website

This is how you rated the Interoperability Continuum in your own communities:

Preliminary results of the Survey question #1 –


  • Excellent: 12%
  • Needs Improvement: 12%
  • Average: 32%

Your Commentary includes:

  • We use RCC for Dispatch - informal coordination between agencies, not a CAD system in house they are 3 ring binders
  • A Board comprised of Public Safety and users (not local elected officials) with laws of coordinating policies and procedures and technology would be extremely valuable
  • Lots of mutual aid understandings and agreements, cross memberships in lots of small departments
  • We are working on issues and making progress but it is expensive and slow due to large rural areas
  • Government agencies need to work and communicate together for different incidents and issues
  • Seem to be some disinterest of the local municipal level and also some lagging at the County EMA level, especially concerning SOP's
  • Policy for governance need to be formulated
  • Government has issues between towns, with money and giving up control
  • Overall not bad, but leadership in small communities can change rapidly

Maine Interoperable Communications Committee (MICC)

The Charter has been finalized and is awaiting approval.

Training & Exercises

COML Unit Leader Type III Training (COML):

Through the Office of Emergency Communications Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program (OEC/ICTAP), the All-Hazards Type III Communications Unit Leader (COML) Class is available to provide DHS approved National Incident Management System (NIMS) compliant Communications Unit Leader (COML) instruction to ensure that every state/territory has trained personnel capable of coordinating on-scene emergency communications during a multi-jurisdictional response. This Train the trainer class is scheduled for June 23-25 in Waterville, to entities with a population of 4000 or more. Five (5) students from each of the six (6) regions will be selected for a total of thirty (30).

Contact MEMA Interoperable Communication Division (624-4476) for questions or further information, or go to our communication website to see the full descriptive and details

NEWS from our March Workshops:

Here are five concerns from the County Workshops that were held in March. We selected comments that were mentioned from the majority of the Counties.

Top five (5) Concerns:

  • Governance: State Level -- It is very frustrating to hear that the State has changed directions (again) and we are not in the loop
  • SOP: Fire/Police could be more on the same page
  • Voice Tech: Still having geographical issues with tower location and power outputs, money and town government still an issue
  • Data Cap: Sharing is difficult at best
  • Training: Would like to be kept nformed of all training
  • Usage: Hard to use if it doesn’t work


If you haven’t received a State of Maine Conops Disk please contact Steven Mallory at (207)624-4476 or or e-mail

Five tips for COML Training:

  • Write your communication plan based on NIMS and ICS structure that is deployed
  • Have channels that separate tactical functions from command
  • Provide documentation of all communications methods used on incident command and partners
  • Develop agency priorities, while adhering to safety standards regarding communications
  • Recognize potentially hazardous situations

Narrowbanding Mandate

Why are we converting to Narrowbanding?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) established the Public Safety Wireless Advisory Committee (PSWAC or Advisory Committee), their Final Report concludes that, unless immediate measures are taken to alleviate spectrum shortfalls and promote interoperability, Public Safety agencies will not be able to adequately discharge their obligation to protect life and property in a safe, efficient, and cost effective manner. The radio frequencies allocated for Public Safety use have become highly congested in many, especially urban, areas. Usable spectrum for mobile operations is limited, and Public Safety agencies are not able to meet existing requirements, much less to plan for future, more advanced communications needs. Not only does the shortage of spectrum jeopardize the lives and health of Public Safety officials, it threatens their ability to fully discharge their duty to protect the lives and property of all Americans…

Narrowbanding Compliance Plan:

  • One plan for compliance* (Source: Author: Nick Ruark)
  • Verify that your company or organization has a current and valid FCC Part 90 radio station license (add NB emission designator)
  • Conduct a full inventory of all radios in your system
  • Including all portable, mobile, dispatcher-used, wireless data or SCADA (public works telemetry), and on or off-site base or repeater radios (include makes and models and, if possible, serial numbers)
  • Determine which equipment can be re-programmed and which must be replaced
  • Secure your budget for services and equipment
  • Develop a “wideband”-to-”narrowband” system conversion plan that addresses:
  • The replacement and installation of any narrowband-capable off-site base or repeater stations.
  • The actual reprogramming of all radios in a system as close to simultaneously as possible.
  • Work closely with a professional two way radio service vendor
  • Schedule and coordinate the actual system conversion (or cutover)
  • Make certain that all radio users have been advised in advance and are aware of the process
  • Modify or relicense your FCC Radio Station license to allow the use of “Narrowband Emissions Designators”
  • Note that the conversion plan must be tailored for each agency

FYI: MEMA has distributed 91 sets of P-25 radios across the State during the months of March-April

Narrowbanding Frequently Asked Questions:

Q - Are we forced to move to 800 MHz?

A - No. Narrowbanding does not require moving to another frequency band.

Q - Will we have to buy new radios?

A - Depends. Most radios purchased in the last 6-8 years are already narrowband capable. They only need to be re-tuned.

Q – Will we need to change frequencies?

A – No. You merely reduce the bandwidth of the channel(s) you are now using.

Q – Will that reduce our coverage?

A – Little if any. You may have to survey your system and area of operation. Only a thorough analysis of your coverage requirements can tell for sure.

Q – Will we have to convert to digital?

A– No. However, many agencies are using this opportunity to upgrade to digital technology. Most digital radios are dual mode capable and can operate in wide band analog as well as narrowband analog and digital. Digital is also more immune from adjacent channel interference along with features unavailable in analog.

Q – We do not have the money to move to narrowband. Isn’t this an unfunded mandate?

A– Not really. The dates are extended enough to ensure most agencies have fully amortized the value of their current equipment by the time the mandates kick in.

Q – Will we have to convert our pagers?

A – Maybe, any pagers on channels 152.0075 and 157.400 can remain on 25 khz

Q – Does UHF have any requirements?

A – No, there are no requirements for those on UHF band

Q – After 2013 can we apply for some of the leftover or new channels?

A – It is a myth that there will be hundreds of additional channels

Q – If we are on VHF do we have to apply for a new license?

A – No, VHF requires license modification to existing licenses only

Q - Where can I learn more about Interoperability?

A - Go to:



Steven Mallory


Last update: 07/20/10