Station Pride Articles

Are You Ready for FirstNet?

Is FirstNet going to change the way we communicate or is it the first major step to Skynet? Could the network become self-aware over time?

Conspiracies aside.

Is your Department talking about Firstnet with their state government? In February 2012, President Obama signed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act. Boring right?  WRONG!  Contained inside this now 3 year old law is a $7 Billion gift to First Responders called the First Responder Network Authority or FirstNet; ( an11421418_10152986878322075_1848270963_nd this gift has been funded in the 2015 budget. Thanks Obama…

FirstNet will be the first-ever U.S. nationwide first responder exclusive LTE broadband network available to encourage interoperability and increased reliability with emergency response along with the ability to improve services. The early stages of this idea originated in 1993; technology kept evolving so fast that research committees couldn’t keep up with the innovations. The stuff I’m talking about here is already what we’re doing behind the scenes with commercial cloud based products, commercial internet, and our iPads or Engine laptops. The only difference is that FirstNet is designed for us with resilient protections to guard against failure during times of crisis. FirstNet is the medium we’ve needed to fully realize the spirit of interoperability preached in NIMS. Finally, our current patchwork of Motorola radio systems on different frequencies will all be brought under the same 700Mhz umbrella…NATIONWIDE.

HsAFTkBR_400x400The wide ranging services offered by FirstNet is what’s most exciting. Here is a snippet from “The FirstNet organization is the first of its kind. Never before has Congress established an independent government authority with a mandate to provide specialized communication services for public safety. Using nationwide 700 MHz spectrum, FirstNet will put an end to decades-long interoperability and communications challenges and help keep our communities and emergency responders safer.”



And this is going to be AWESOME! We’re talking ambulances sending pictures of accident scenes ahead to hospitals prior to patient arrival, communication across platforms, the ability to pull up GPS mapping, building pre-fire plans, handheld finger print scanners.

“Using the FirstNet network will improve situational awareness, decision‐making and responder and citizen health and safety. Just as smartphones have changed personal lives, FirstNet devices and applications will ultimately change the way public safety operates. FirstNet devices will work anywhere on the network and will save time when seconds matter. A market of millions of public safety users will bring savings opportunities to state and local budgets. FirstNet will bring the benefits of a single, nationwide, interoperable network that is built to open standards to public safety agencies across the country.”


I’m cautiously excited to start seeing this stood up.  It’s going to be interesting to see the kind of information that will be available at our fingertips and how this will enable interoperability.
This network could also provide the First Responder Network Authority with back-end trending data that can be used in ways we have or have not thought of yet. You’re small town volunteer fire department may end up being plugged in too a much much larger control arm. Likewise your metropolitan emergency services may be linked together in a manner that inhibits greater communication and command-ability.  Good or bad, it’s going to be fascinating where this takes our industry.
Have your department arrange a consultation
About Jon Marr (35 Articles)
Jon Marr is a 23-year fire service veteran originally from the Rhode Island area. He currently works as the Deputy Director of Emergency Management in the Wichita Metro Area. He was previously a Station/Battalion Chief at a United States Air Force Base in Southern Spain and a Battalion Chief with the U.S. Army Garrison Kwajalein Atoll in support of the Space and Missile Defense Command. Prior to Kwajalein, Jon spent 8 years as a Fire Captain for the Area Support Group Kuwait Fire & Emergency Services Department supporting the U.S. Army Central Command throughout Kuwait. He was also a Fire Lieutenant at Forward Operating Base Falcon in Southern Baghdad, as well as 3 years working for AMR Seattle. Jon is a certified Fire Officer IV, Fire Instructor III, Fire Inspector II, Incident Safety Officer, Haz-Mat Tech/IC, holds a Bachelors degree in Fire Administration from Waldorf College and has been an EMT for 22 years. He is currently a Graduate Student. Jon enjoys scuba diving, adventure travel, and watching his 12-year-old son see the world in wonder. Jon is a firm believer in maintaining a healthy balance of pride, tradition, and safety within the fire service.

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