A few years ago, the IMO came out with the SOLAS Chapter II-2 regulation 10.10.4 requiring all ships to be equipped with at least two sets of Intrinsically Safe (IS) radios for fire fighter communications.
With the July 2018 deadline for compliance whizzing by, many in the market are still rushing to comply, and we get asked many similar questions by our customers.
So, we thought that it would be helpful to create this 3-step guide to provide some clarity on how to buy Fire-Fighting Radios.
BONUS: We've also done a side-by-side comparison of some Intrinsically Safe (IS) walkie-talkie brands and models out there!
Step 1. Which Intrinsically Safe (IS) Standard?
All firefighting radios must be explosion-proof / Intrinsically Safe (IS). There are 3 types of IS standards:
To figure out which IS standard is required, just answer a simple question:
Does your vessel have an EU flag (let's assume the UK falls within this for now...)?
If yes, you will require an ATEX approved radio.
If your vessel has a non-EU flag, you can pick any IS standard you want!
The exact rating (IIC, IIB, IIA) required will depend on the Explosion Group. (IIC is the highest rating offering the highest level of protection, followed by IIB, then IIA)
Step 2. What Frequency?
All marine radios come in either one of two frequency bands:
- VHF (156 - 174 MHz)
- UHF (300 MHz - 3 GHz)
The frequency band you choose for your new fire-fighting radios should enable the fire fighters to communicate with each other (i.e. you should choose UHF frequency radios if you know you require UHF radios on board the vessel to communicate)
Note: Some VHF marine radios come pre-programmed with standard VHF marine channels and do not require further programming. If not, you will need to provide the frequencies used by existing radios on board so any new radios can be programmed to the same frequency.
Step 3. Choose The Brand and Model
Finally, we get to the best part! Shopping around for your favourite brand and model. Keeping in mind the above constraints, you can use our grid below to figure out which brand and model suits your needs best.
In our opinion, Entel offers the best value-for-money to comply with the SOLAS fire-fighting regulation. As a manufacturer based in the UK, Entel's radios are of very high quality and at a pretty affordable price point.
If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact us.
BuyNav is the new online store for Marine Navigation and Communication Equipment. The store is managed by Allied eParts, a market-leading marine electronics distributor, with over 20 years of experience in the industry.
We stock a wide range of products including Marine Antennas, Marine Radios, Monitors, Acoustic Beacons, Marine Safety Equipment, Battery Chargers, Batteries, Magnetrons, Recording Charts and Pens & Accessories. Brands we carry include AC Antennas, Actisense, Entel, Crystal, e2v, Hattleland, JRC, McMurdo, Motorola, Novega, RM Young, Samyung, Sartech, Savox, Victron Energy and Yuasa.
Kindly note that the above analysis is our own opinion and based on our own research and analysis. Manufacturers have not verified our analysis of their products.