Listen to MCFRS activity
A scanner of all channels is located here.
You may also select the following channels to listen to individually (these are provided by Montgomery County):
7C (Incident 10)
7G (Incident 20)
Guide to Listening
All calls are dispatched on 7A (pronounced “seven alpha”).
Most EMS calls, and most small incidents (4 units or less) respond on 7B (pronounced “seven bravo”). This means after the call is dispatched on 7A, all transmissions are made on 7B until units are in service.
Major incidents are moved to 7C (“seven charlie) or 7G (“seven golf”). Assuming that there are no other major incidents in the county, fires will be automatically told to respond on 7C and special incidents will be told to respond on 7G. Special incidents include river rescue calls, major vehicle accidents, and hazardous materials calls. If those channels are not available, the incidents will take place on other channels. To listen to these calls, make sure you use the scanner at the top of this page.
****BEEEEP**** Eight Thousand One River Road, Cross Street of Seven Locks Road, The Injured Person, Ambulance Seven Ten Respond on Seven Bravo, Box Area Ten-Oh-One, Nine Thirty Seven.
Calls are dispatched in this format: Single beep, address, cross street, nature, units to respond, operating channel, box area, time.
- Tones: All calls are dispatched with a single beep. If you here multiple short beeps, this is a pre-alert to a fire incident. Since it takes a substantial amount of time to alert all stations and set off pagers in order to notify the many units on a fire call dispatch “pre-alerts” fires. Here is a sample pre-alert: *BEEP* *BEEP* *BEEP* *BEEP* *BEEP* Units to Respond on Seven Charlie, Seven Charlie. Eight Thousand One River Road, Cross Street Seven Locks Road, Report of Smoke in the Building, Box Area Ten-Oh-One. Firefighters know the box areas, and will then be able to figure out if they are due to respond on the call so the purpose of the pre-alert is to allow units to be on the road responding before the call is actually dispatched.
- Address: This is the address of the incident
- Cross Street: This is the nearest road to where the incident is located. For example, River Road is quite a long stretch of road covering most of the length of Montgomery County, but firefighters at Cabin John Park VFD will know that an incident on River Road with a cross street of Seven Locks road will be in their response area, and an incident with a cross street of Westbard Avenue will be in Glen Echo Fire Department’s area.
- Nature: The type of call units are responding too. The nature can be anything from a “sick person” all the way to “report of tractor trailer overturned with hazardous materials leak” and so on.
- Units To Respond: These are the units being dispatched on the call. See below for types of calls and their units.
- Operating Channel: This is the channel units will use to talk to dispatch. Almost all units in Montgomery County have what is known as an MDC (Mobile Data Computer). This allows firefighters to receive substantial amounts of information without tying up the radio by talking. In Montgomery County, because important information can be relayed over the MDC. For privacy and speed, dispatch will often say “are you OK on the notes?” which means “did you get the information sent over the computer?”.
- Box Area: CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) systems at the dispatch center use box areas to determine the closest units to a call. Box areas are predefined sectors that divide Montgomery County, and have a “running order” assigned to them. Box areas are four digits, the first two are the station that is first to respond (or “first due”) to that box area. The “running order” is the order of units that would be quickest to respond. For example, if Ambulance 710 is out on a call, and the box area is, say 10-01 (pronounced “Ten-Oh-One”), then the next unit in the running order would respond to that call. Box areas that begin with 10 and 30 are Cabin John Park VFD’s “First Due”.
- Time: Dispatch states the current time. This is a timestamp for records.
Common Terminology and Its Meaning
Here are some common phrases used on the radio, and their meaning
- All units in Montgomery County begin with “7”. The second two numbers are the station they are assigned to. All units at Cabin John Park VFD are 710 or 730. You may also hear units with 4, 8, or 9. 4 is Fairfax County, VA; 8 is Prince George’s County, MD; 9 is Frederick County, MD. Counties that do not have the county identifier are pronounced with their county – for example, “Howard County Engine One”. This applies to radio channels too. Cabin John Park VFD often responds to Fairfax County on The Capital Beltway, so if the call is VA, the dispatcher will state “Respond on Four Charlie” which means Cabin John Park VFD units switch their radios to Fairfax County Channels.
- If there is more than one of a type of unit at a station, a letter will be attached at the end of the unit to differentiate it. So on nights where there are extra volunteers on hand, you may here “Ambulance Seven Ten Bravo” (A710B) which is the second ambulance from station 10 in Montgomery County.
- Ambulance Seven Ten is OK – This means A710 heard and understands the message
- Engine Seven Ten is Direct – This means E710 heard something another unit wanted to tell them, so dispatch does not need to repeat the message. This is often mistakenly used when a unit meant to say that they were “OK” on a message.
- ALS2 – This is a significant medical emergency. Two paramedic units are added on to the call. Ambulances with Paramedics on board are called “Medics” (For example, “Medic Seven Thirty”) and any other units with a Paramedic on board are referred to as a Paramedic unit, for example “Paramedic Truck Seven Ten” or “Paramedic Engine Seven Ten”. Paramedics often ride fire trucks and carry Advanced Life Support (ALS) equipment with them, hence why you may see a fire engine, or ladder truck with an ambulance on a medical call.
- Detail – A unit on a detail is assigned to a special task and is not available for calls.
- Routine – Calls that are Routine response mean the units respond without lights or sirens. Since responding with lights and sirens puts units at risk for a car accident, and calls are sometimes to help those that are not in immediate danger, it may be safer for a unit to take their time and go with the flow of traffic.