Due to limitations on social gatherings because of the Coronavirus, SCMA Meetings are being held virtually online via Zoom until further notice.

To join us, you must be a member of the SCMA Group Email List to receive invitations to the meetings. Click on THIS LINK to be added to the email list.

We are also holding informal weekly get-togethers online via Zoom every Wednesday night at 7:00 PM.

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Cal Fire Tanker 96 Crashes at Rohnerville Airport; No One Injured

One of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s S-2T air tankers, Tanker 96 (N440DF), had a mishap July 28, 2020 at the Rohnerville Airport in northern California. Rohnerville is 15 miles south of Eureka, California.

“Yesterday at about 6 p.m. we had an incident involving one of our aircraft assigned to Rohnerville Air Attack Base,” said Paul Savona, Battalion Chief with CAL FIRE’s Humbolt Del Norte unit Wednesday morning. “As a result of the incident, there were no injuries and no fire. Everything else is under investigation.”

It “hit the ground” and “the left tire has popped,” according to personnel reporting from the scene over the scanner. No one was injured and there was no fire, according to emergency personnel speaking from the scene.

According to Chief Savona, the tanker is repairable. He explained that Cal Fire airbases are located so that aircraft can respond to anywhere in the state within 20 minutes and he reassured the public, “We do have reserve aircraft available. We will always be ready to respond.”

Tanker 96 was leaving and returning in quick round trips prior to the accident. FlightRadar shows the flight path of the tanker prior to the crash.


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New Fire Station 1 Opens to Serve Santa Monica

Photo by SCMA Member Kent Cullom, LA-111

Beginning this month, the Santa Monica Fire Department will operate out of their new Fire Station 1 at 1337 7th Street serving the Downtown community. The new essential services facility has been under construction since June 2018 and replaces SMFD’s first and oldest station.  

Fire Station 1 serves the downtown core and is Santa Monica’s most active station with 8,948 calls for service a year. The station houses SMFD’s largest equipment, including its ladder truck. A total of 15 firefighters will be assigned to the station.  Here are other essential features of the new station: 

  • A two-story facility that spans over 28,000 square feet 
  • Able to remain operational after a major disaster, allowing fire personnel to continue providing vital services to the public 
  • Bathrooms and 20 dormitories to accommodate both male and female firefighters 
  • Community room available to the public to reserve for use 
  • A public artwork called Back Story, by Deborah Aschheim, consisting of panes of painted and fired art glass “watercolors” featuring historic and contemporary images of Santa Monica firefighting life. This artwork was produced as part of Santa Monica’s Percent for Art program. 
  • Secured underground parking for fire personnel and smaller equipment 
  • State of the art infrastructure that supports fire department equipment storage, maintenance, and repair 
  • Rooftop solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity, which will cut down on energy costs
  • The building will achieve LEED V4 certification to ensure the project is designed and constructed to the highest level of sustainability 

The station has seven bays. According to SCMA Member Kent Cullom, the bays, from left to right in the photo above, are Museum Bay, Battalion-1, Engine-6 (Paramedic Engine Company with a crew of 2), Engine-1 (Paramedic Engine Company with a crew of 4), Truck-1 (100′ Ladder Truch with a crew of 5), Rescue-1, Utility-1.

Sources: Kent Cullom, SCMA Member LA-111; Santa Monica Fire Department

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Chula Vista Police Are Getting 911 Calls Livestreamed to their Patrol Cars

Chula Vista police Officer Nicholas How accesses information about calls for service on a laptop inside his patrol car. (Courtesy of HigherGround )

Chula Vista police officers are getting a quicker start on emergencies thanks to new technology that allows 911 calls to be sent directly to computers in their patrol cars.

Instead of waiting for a 911 operator to type out their notes and then have the information relayed by a dispatcher, officers can hear the call in real time and begin heading to emergencies while the caller is still on the line — potentially shaving crucial minutes off response time.

The department began testing out the livestreaming program months ago after the software was developed by the company HigherGround Inc.

Officers using the software can listen in on the caller’s conversation with the dispatcher, not only to hear tone of voice but every detail shared by the caller. The program is paired with a map that can pinpoint the location of the call within feet.

“If you need help in a canyon, maybe you’re lost or you need help in a parking lot, they don’t have to drive around the parking lot — they know where you’re sitting or standing,” said Chula Vista police Lt. Don Redmond.

Drone pilots began testing the web-based application late last year and patrol officers were outfitted with it a couple months ago.

So they don’t get overwhelmed listening to every 911 call received by the dispatch center, each officer can set a perimeter so they are alerted only when 911 calls are within a half mile or a mile of their patrol car. The city receives around 100,000 911 calls a year, Redmond said.

Police officials say the livestreamed calls give officers more information so they can have a better response plan and be prepared to de-escalate situations when possible.

“The officer… can get on the (radio) and say, ‘I’m listening to Live911, can you ask the call taker to get this information?’” Redmond said. “He is hearing directly from the caller. It really streamlines the ability of the community to talk to our officers.”

The idea for Live911 came from retired Chula Vista police Capt. Fritz Reber, who thought of it after spending time supervising Chula Vista’s dispatch center. He knew the whole process of having a call taker type in a call and then having a dispatcher come on the radio to broadcast it could take anywhere from 40 seconds “if they’re really good” to two minutes or more.

He wrote about it in a paper while attending Peace Officers Standards and Training , also known as P.O.S.T., Command College when he was a lieutenant. Reber’s paper was subsequently printed in Police Chief magazine, giving a wider audience to his vision on closing the “911 gap” — the time it takes between someone calling in an emergency and the call being dispatched.

“The need for a human operator in dispatch to evaluate and vet information serves as a constant chokepoint in the communication process,” Reber wrote.”That time between the citizen’s mouth, through the filter of a call-taker and then into CAD (computer-aided dispatch), is a yet unexploited gap that is begging to be explored. It is the last step toward the goal of instant and perfect transmission of information. It is the game of telephone with only two players.”

Closing that gap, he wrote, could not only get officers to scenes faster but give them a clearer picture as an incident unfolds.

In his paper, he recalled the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland in 2014 as “another tragic example of communication failure.” A citizen in a park called 911 to report seeing a guy with a gun who was pointing it all around.

That was relayed to the two officers, who ended up fatally shooting the boy, who was playing with a toy gun. What was not relayed to officers, Reber notes, were comments by the caller that the gunman was “probably a juvenile” and that the gun was “probably fake.”

“Consider how this incident could have unfolded had the officers been able to hear the words ‘probably fake.’ Consider what information they may have gathered by hearing for themselves the tone of voice and apparent nonchalance of the caller,” he wrote. “None of this came through to the officers.”

Reber’s idea became a reality after he began working with HigherGround, a Canoga Park-based company that develops solution-based software.

He retired from the Police Department in 2018 after a 27-year career. He is now a consultant with HigherGround, which has named him as one of the inventors on its patent application. He also works for Skydio, a drone company based in Redwood City.

Reber says he’s pleased to see the product get developed and marketed to police agencies.

“It is very gratifying,” he said. “You have these dreams you’ll go to your grave with somebody stealing your great idea.”

Getting an idea to be developed into a real product was “a personal win for me,” he said.

The technology already has led to some positive outcomes in Chula Vista.

In May, someone called 911 and hung up. When the dispatcher called back, the woman said there was no emergency and the call had been made by mistake. But a drone pilot listening in thought he heard something in the background and decided to check it out anyway.

“Now the officer can hear the call, can hear the urgency, can hear the tone of your voice, that you’re scared,” Redmond said.

A drone was launched and flew over the house. There, the pilot spotted someone coming out of a window carrying a knife and watched as she used it to scratch up a car before swinging it at a woman.

“We immediately sent a patrol officer,” Redmond said. “The female dropped the knife when the officer got there. They got to get her some help. It ended positively with nobody being injured.”

In another incident, a patrol officer listening to a live-streamed 911 call was able to catch up to an assault suspect who was being followed by the victim. Without the livestreaming, Redmond said he would have been farther away and left hunting for the vehicle.

“We know we are a progressive agency,” Redmond said. “We use technology and see how we can best serve the community. We saw this as an opportunity to provide better service to our community.”

After months of testing by law enforcement officers in Chula Vista, Clovis, Calif., and Polk County, Fla., Live911 was officially launched and made available for purchase by other police agencies earlier this month. The company did not disclose pricing information.

“Live911 is an annual subscription service based on the number of concurrent licenses that police agency wishes to have active during a shift,” a company spokesman said in an e-mail. “Our goal is to have affordable solution that helps first responders be more effective in providing public safety.”

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune

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FCC Fines HobbyKing Nearly $3 Million for Marketing Unauthorized Drone Transmitters

The FCC fined HobbyKing $2,861,128 for marketing drone transmitters that do not comply with FCC licensing rules.

The website markets devices that provide a video link between transmitters mounted on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and users flying drones. An FCC investigation found that dozens of devices marketed by the company transmitted in unauthorized radio frequency bands and, in some cases, operated at excessive transmission power levels.

Radio frequency-emitting devices that can operate outside of radio frequency bands designated for amateur use must obtain FCC certification. The FCC’s investigation found that 65 models of devices could operate outside those bands — in addition to using designated amateur radio bands — yet the devices were not certified by the commission. Such unlawful transmissions could interfere with key government and public-safety services like aviation systems and weather radar systems.

Following complaints to the FCC, the commission’s Enforcement Bureau opened an investigation into the company’s marketing of radio frequency devices to American consumers. In response to these complaints, the FCC issued a formal citation to warn the company that it must comply with these requirements. Following further complaints, the commission ordered the company to provide information on its marketing of AV transmitters, but HobbyKing provided no further response, as required by law, the commission said. The Commission thus proposed the fine in 2018 and adopted it today. If HobbyKing does not pay the fine within 30 days, this matter will be referred to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for collection.

Source: Mission Critical Communications

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Coast Guard Extends Mobile Connectivity to Distressed Mariners with ‘i911’

The U.S. Coast Guard is taking advantage of phone-tracking services to locate distressed mariners up to 20 nautical miles offshore through a mobile app that acts like 911 emergency service.

The “i911” app is currently being used in the Pacific Northwest and has the clearance to be implemented at Coast Guard districts across the country. While the guard describes the software as “groundbreaking” in a news release, it behaves like similar technology already used by law enforcement and consumers. Its adoption by the Coast Guard, however, represents a step in a more modern direction for an agency whose legacy IT systems are on the “brink of catastrophic failure,” according to its top officer, Adm. Karl Schultz.

The i911 application allows Coast Guard fleets to access phone location data through a web-based interface for mariners in need of a rescue, according to the release. Boaters don’t need to download anything as long as they can click a link texted to them from rescuers and enable the sharing of their location data.

“While VHF radio remains the most reliable form of distress communication, this tool gives the Coast Guard another avenue to rapidly locate mariners in distress utilizing smart phone technology,” said Lt. Cmdr. Colin Boyle, the command center chief of the 13th district in Washington that is the first to adopt the technology.

In February, Schultz called for a “tech revolution” to increase off-shore connectivity and modernize legacy systems across the service. Much of the guard’s plan revolves around cloud migration and upgrading hardware on cutters, mid-sized ships that make up the bulk of the service’s fleet. These initiatives are designed to improve services and better take advantage of applications like i911.

The tech is a free service developed by Callyo Incorporated, a mobile technology company that caters to the law enforcement market. The application is also used by other law enforcement agencies across the country, according to the company’s website. The application can only access location data during rescue operations with the permission of the distressed mariner.

“In addition, the location sharing feature is only utilized during an active search and rescue case and can be turned off by the mariner at any time,” Boyle said in a news release.

Procurement documents show the Coast Guard had a “Cooperative Research and Development Agreement” with Callyo in 2019. That year, the Guard ran pilot programs for the app’s use, which lead to several successful rescues, the guard said. While the 13th district in the Pacific North West is the first part of the guard to fully implement the technology, the rest of the service has the authority to adopt it.

This type of technology has been prevalent for years and widely used in many other industries. Phones-based location data is used in services like Apple’s “Find My” app, which allows authorized location data viewing for devices and many companies use large-scale data aggregation of smart phone location data.


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Ensuring Critical Communications for 13 Agencies Across Los Angeles County With Computer Aided Dispatch Upgrade

The Verdugo Fire Communications (VFCC) center operates out of the Glendale Fire Department and is owned by the cities of Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena, the Tri-Cities. Just last year, the dispatch center answered almost 180,000 calls for 13 agencies, including Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, Alhambra, Arcadia, Monrovia, Montebello, Monterey Park, San Gabriel, San Marino, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena and the Hollywood Burbank Airport.

At 5:00 a.m., May 12, the Verdugo Fire Communications Center went ‘Go Live’ with a new state of the art computer aided dispatch (CAD) software system. The complex project involved the coordinated participation of all thirteen agencies and guidance from the Tri-Cities. The new Northrup Grumman, Command Point CAD will replace a system that is 30 years old and will provide an increased level of service to the communities we serve while improving the safety of our first responders. “The enhancements and improvements that this state of the art, Computer Aided Dispatch system brings to the 13 agencies and over 1 million people served through Verdugo Fire Communications center each day, will continue to make use the leading multi-agency Fire and EMS dispatch center in Los Angeles County” said Silvio Lanzas, the Glendale Fire Chief who oversees the Verdugo Fire Communications Center.

The new CAD upgrade is a mission-critical command and control system that enables emergency communications center personnel to manage calls and resources. It provides all relevant information in a feature-rich user interface which efficiently supports dispatching operations of public safety agencies. The system allows personnel to make informed decisions and meet high performance demands for fire and emergency medical services.

For over 40 years, the VFCC has served as the first point of contact for those seeking immediate assistance during an emergency in our area and they currently serve the Glendale Fire Department and 12 other jurisdictions. During a CAL OES, 9-1-1 Branch audit, Verdugo was recognized for being an industry leader in 9-1-1 call answering. California has adopted a standard of answering 9-1-1 calls 95% of the time in less than 15 seconds. The Verdugo Fire Communications Center exceeds this standard by answering 9-1-1 calls within 15 seconds 99.58% of the time.

The Glendale Fire Department and the 12 other jurisdictions who are served each day by the VFCC are grateful to the Verdugo Fire Communication Center staff, and all the telecommunication professionals across the country for their commitment to the safety and well-being of first responders and the citizens of the communities we serve.

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Los Angeles is Deploying Medical Street Teams to Help Protect Homeless People from Coronavirus

Los Angeles is sending medical street teams to help protect homeless people during the coronavirus pandemic that’s killed tens of thousands nationwide, city officials said.

In the United States alone, the coronavirus outbreak has left more than 37,000 people dead and sickened nearly 710,000. California is one of the hardest-hit states, with about 30,000 cases of infection and more than 1,000 people killed.

Under the effort that starts Monday, deployed medical teams will focus on people living on the streets and provide them with rapid-results coronavirus tests, regular health and welfare screenings, counseling and transportation to shelters and hotels, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday.

Additional resources will be sent to the city’s Skid Row, and will include nursing staff, mental health workers and case managers. They’ll provide the homeless population there with face coverings and other necessary items while working to take them off the streets, the mayor said.

“We have to get more screening, testing, and treatment to Angelenos who are most vulnerable to this virus,” Garcetti said. “We’re putting experts and resources in places where they can make an immediate difference and help save lives.”

The Los Angeles Fire Department will set up a pop-up testing clinic to deliver fast results. They’ll feature physical distancing waiting rooms and provide direct referral and transport to isolation and quarantine areas, he added.

“We’re deploying every resource to help people who are most vulnerable and susceptible in this crisis,” Garcetti said.

The city has urged hotel and motel owners to participate in Project Roomkey, which will provide a place to stay for high-risk people experiencing homelessness. The state has secured thousands of rooms and is negotiating with additional hotels and motels in counties with significant homeless populations.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s Project Roomkey effort this month, setting an initial goal of securing up to 15,000 rooms to move people off the streets.

“Homeless Californians are incredibly vulnerable to Covid-19 and often have no option to self-isolate or social distance,” Newsom said. “By helping the most vulnerable homeless individuals off the street and into isolation, California can slow the spread of Covid-19 through homeless populations, lower the number of people infected and protect critical health care resources. We’re working hard with our county partners to get these hotels up and running as rapidly as possible.”

In addition to the hotels and motels, the governor facilitated hundreds of trailers purchased by the state and operated by the local governments to be used in a similar way as Project Roomkey.

Source: CNN

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SCMA Members are Virtually Meeting on Discord. Join Our Weekly Get-Togethers

Thanks to Gene Stubbe, LA-137, SCMA Members are getting together and chatting every week using the virtual meeting app Discord.

Due to the “stay at home” orders and the ban on social gathering, we are not able to hold in-person meetings for the foreseeable future. So Gene took it upon himself to do something to bring the club members together.

Using the virtual meeting app Discord, Gene set up a server where we can all connect and chat about the state of the world (at least the world of scanning) and enjoy the social camaraderie we have been missing. So far, we’ve just been using voice chat and text, although it is possible to use video if anyone is so brave to do so.

Discord is a free VoIP application and runs on Windows, macOS, Android, ios, Linux, and in web browsers. It was designed for video gaming communities that specialize in text, image, audio, and video communication between users in a chat channel.

Other members have suggested using the Zoom app, but Discord is working fine and is easy to set up on your computer, notebook, or smartphone.

To join the SCMA Group on Discord you will need to be on the SCMA Email Yahoo Group email list to receive an invitation link. We are doing this to keep the group private and prevent people from “bombing” the chat with spam. If you are not receiving SCMA emails, you can request to join the email list at THIS LINK.

Join the fun every Wednesday night at 7:00 PM. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Forest Service Suspends Controlled Burns Over Coronavirus

A charred landscape is left by a wildfire dubbed the Cave Fire, burning in the hills of Santa Barbara, California, U.S., November 26, 2019. REUTERS/David McNew/

The U.S. Forest Service has suspended controlled burns on public lands in wildfire-prone California because of the coronavirus pandemic, upsetting officials who see the program as key to preventing seasonal infernos like those that devastated parts of the state in 2018.

The decision comes as forecasters predict yet another above-average year for wildfires in parts of the state because of dry conditions, and follows President Donald Trump’s repeated criticism of California’s own forest management work following the 2018 fires.

“Safety of the public and our wildland fire responders is priority number one,” said Jonathan Groveman, a spokesman for the Forest Service in California, whose office suspended controlled burns at the end of March.

He did not say when the work would resume. The Forest Service controls about 60 percent of California’s 33 million acres of forests.

John Giller, fire director for the U.S. Forest Service region in Washington and Oregon, confirmed controlled burns were suspended in those states as well, and said the agency’s “focus this spring is on the immediate decisions we can make to help communities face this pandemic.”

Suspending the work allows Forest Service employees to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and ensures that smoke from controlled burns does not make people in nearby communities more vulnerable to the symptoms of the deadly respiratory illness, said Kaari Carpenter, a Forest Service spokeswoman in Washington.

Decisions about whether to suspend burns are at the discretion of regional offices, the USFS said.

California officials said they disagreed with the decisions and were continuing their own forest management work on state lands through the pandemic.

“I have no understanding as to why they made that decision,” said Thom Porter, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. “We’re very much in support of continuing our fuel-management projects. We see those as critical to protecting lives and property.”

In 2018, the state experienced its deadliest and most destructive fire season ever as 1.67 million acres burned, killing dozens of people.

Trump has since repeatedly blamed California’s fires on the state’s supposed mishandling of its forests. In 2018, Trump also signed an executive order to speed projects to reduce “hazardous fuels” on federal lands through forest thinning, burning and timber sales.

The U.S. Forest Service treated some 223,000 acres in California last year using prescribed fires and other methods, according to spokesman Nathan Judy.

Cal Fire is planning to burn about 25,000 acres this year on state and private lands, similar to what it did in 2019. It wants to more than double that amount in the next six years, Porter said.

Source: Reuters News Service

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