Special Audible Signals


VERN • Special Signal Tones

Network Control and Group Leaders (with a GMRS radio+license) could use additional audible DTMF tones to indicate certain conditions on a Volunteer Emergency Radio Network. These tones are sent using the radio’s numeric keypad as described here for the two basic signal tones.

A standard GMRS radio, the BTECH GMRS-V1

NOTE: FRS radios generally have no keypad and are NOT able to produce tones.


SPECIAL SIGNALS

For Network Control & Group Leaders ONLY, three (3) additional special audible signals are proposed. Most VERN operators will not send these but could hear them.

(3) Danger Level Signal

Keys                                                  Name                                      
 ###  ###  ###  ###  ###            Danger !
 
###  ###  ###  ###  ###  ###  ###  ###  ###  ###   HEY !!

• Press “pound” key 3x rapidly (a ‘triple-tap‘)
• Pause for one (1) second between each ‘triple-tap’
Repeat ‘triple-taps’ 5x-10x (more indicates higher danger)
• 10x = highest possible danger level (catastrophe: almost never used)

NOTE: These signals are sent by Network Control
   —> Only to the Emergency Alert Channel (FRS 9, GMRS 33)
—> Only when there is useful incident info to broadcast.
   —> Followed by:
            A brief incident summary.
            More info on Main VERN Repeater channel (FRS 8, GMRS 23)

(4) Group Leaders / GMRS “Gather” Signal

Keys                                                  Name                                      
  88 33 77 66                                 Group Leaders Gather

• ‘Musical’ tone for NetCon/Group Leaders to call all GMRS operators*
Press & Hold each key Twice (2x) holding for a half second each
Pause 1 second between pairs

NOTE: Spells “VV EE RR NN” for Volunteer Emergency Radio Network operators. Variations on this are still being proposed and refined.
* GMRS operators are the network‘s backbone, leading the groups and relaying other people who cannot be heard: this calls them together for something important.

(5) Test Signal

Keys                                                  Name                                      
 218  218  218                                  Start Test / End Test

Used by operators to: test the Repeater and train on using signals.
Press each key Twice (2x) holding for a half second each press.
Pause 1 second between pairs.
Preceded by saying “START Test Alert” out loud.
 • Followed by saying “Test Alert END” out loud.


Konocti Fire Lookout Closed

State Inspector shuts down Mt Konocti Tower on Wright Peak.

“Saint Helena, this is Konocti Tower… out of service.”

2019.10.04 • I may never again get to say that… at the end of a long shift, after looking out over all of Lake County’s green and blue magnificence, to keep my fellow citizens safer from fires and other disasters. It is with concern for the safety of Lake County’s people, animals and natural splendor, that I must report sad news to you. Today, a CA State Inspector has shut down the Mt Konocti Fire Lookout Tower on nearby Wright Peak. Mark your calendars, friends. It might be a long wait. 🙁

The details will be available through the local Forest Fire Lookout Association (where I volunteer for shifts on the tower), but the preliminary information is that the Inspector locked us out —well before the end of Fire Season— for what he deemed to be unsafe conditions related the tower’s physical state (dry rot, weakened steel, cracking concrete). At first, I wondered if they were talking about me. 😉

Personally, as a volunteer lookout, I don’t mind an appropriate level of risk — if it saves lives and property. Sure the tower is old and worn (who isn’t?), but it’s not statistically likely to fall down until after fire season 2019. To add some perspective, I’m pretty sure the firefighters who go and actually put out the fires are willing to accept a similar class of risks (to a higher degree, of course) and for the same reasons.

As a community, we are suddenly less safe, but a few dozen volunteers will be safer, so… consider that logic. On the bright side, we could now become more dependent on one PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) Security Camera mounted by CalFire on the northeast corner of the tower. You can see the images here. As you will see, the difference between those PTZ cameras and human beings with brains and powerful binoculars is… significant. Peripheral vision, a human brain and way better magnification will beat a camera any day.

Now, we as a community must find a way to compensate for this loss. The tower closure could last somewhere between “a fairly long time” and “never coming back online”. We’ve been metaphorically poked in the eye with a stick and left half-blind as a community to eruptions of smoke, flames and human foibles all around Lake County and beyond. We need more than ever to focus our collective energy on keeping each other safe. That starts with talking to each other, as do many other solutions to what ails our society. Talk. Get to know people. Feel comfy calling them for help or going to help when they call. Learn the emergency protocols, like our “directed net”. Join a FireWise group (we have SIX all around Cobb!). Know where the places people talk about are located (yes, we need better maps on this website!).

So, if you’ve been sitting on the fence, waiting to see how this whole “volunteer emergency radio network” thing works out… well, it’s time now for you to step up, for your own safety and that of others too, including your loved ones and friendly neighbors. Get a radio and join us on the radio checks. There was talk of going back to one radio check per week, but now that Konocti Tower is going “out of service” indefinitely… I think we might go to three radio checks a week. Vigilance plus readiness equals life.

It’s easy to get involved and be part of the solution