Fire/Police/Emergency Scanners

Discussion in 'Survival Communications' started by 3M-TA3, Jun 29, 2016.

  1. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey Site Supporter++

    Any recommendations on fire/police/emergency scanners? While the capability (at least some of it) is built into my Yaesu VX-6r, I'd like to get something that's easy to use for my wife that will pick up pretty much all emergency services. It needs to be easy to use and able to be used like a base station. Thoughts?
    hitchcock4 and Taku like this.
  2. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey Site Supporter++

    Part of the problem is that I don't really understand the frequency ranges that are in use and what is important and not important. How can I tell is a given scanner will do what I need being unfamiliar? I'd never heard of a trunking scanner before...
    Taku likes this.
  3. Oltymer

    Oltymer Monkey++

    Used as a base station, and portable too? Sounds like you really need a portable. I've had several different kinds over the past 40 years but the best one I owned was a Bearcat 245 XLT trunk tracking scanner, and I wore all the printing off the buttons on that one, but depending on where you are located, and what systems are in use locally would be the determining factor in what to start looking at. Some of the newer communications being used are not available to the public via scanners, encryption and scrambling, etc. All my Fed freqs disappeared on 9-11, and never came back, as they switched freqs as the country went into lockdown. Same thing might happen again in a major emergency.

    You might be able to find something used, older base units are not as expensive as similar portable units, but base units are ungainly even in a vehicle, if that option is even legal in your area. I have a 30 year old Realistic Pro-32, 200 channels non-trunking unit that does everything I need done where I'm living now, and it only set me back $20.

    One thing about scanners is that you need to be able run whatever unit you use by feel in the dark, takes some practice, but worth the effort and will come in handy at some point.
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  4. Oltymer

    Oltymer Monkey++

    Oh, yeah, go to and you can find what frequencies and systems are in use in your area. If your near navigable bodies of water, include the Marine freqs, CB - 21mhz would be good, FRS/GMRS freqs a must, trains, and air freqs are good with helicopter being the best in my opinion. There's still plenty to listen to out there, even without trunking, and this just scratches the surface.
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  5. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    Uniden HomePatrol.

    ETA: Simple, fast setup. Will follow most trunking systems. Still does analog. Free programming via usb cable from Weather alarm. Manual entry possible. Identifies what agency is using (or supposed to be using) the frequency. Rechargable batteries (mine are still going strong after...maybe 6 years) Removable antenna allows for hookup to outside antenna. Small - will fit in most jacket pockets.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2016
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  6. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+++

    I have a Uniden BCT15X and I am very happy with it. I also have a BC355N which is considered a "low end" scanner but It performs well beyond its price tag.
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  7. AD1

    AD1 Monkey+++

    ^^^^^^What he said^^^^^^^
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  8. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    I have a Uniden trunk tracker III
    Taku likes this.
  9. Salted Weapon

    Salted Weapon Monkey+++

    Bear Tracker 800 BTC7 its ac/dc been a great reliable scanner.
    I noted on another thread, smart phones and tablets can use free scanner that take local scanners and
    make then available nation wide. They work well I use both.
  10. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey Site Supporter++

    Thanks all for your input and recommendations. I have learned quite a lot from this conversation, and looks like I have some more studying up to do on the suggested scanners.

    I did install a free scanner app on my wife's phone a few weeks ago, but see that as a secondary system since it relies on cell/data services that would likely be unavailable in the event of a nearby emergency. What was cool was that it would let us scan other parts of the country, so if traveling we could listen in on our home area if we wanted.

    What a great resource, I had no idea it was out there!
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  11. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey Site Supporter++

    That would explain why my local PD isn't listed, just the county.
    Taku likes this.
  12. hitchcock4

    hitchcock4 Monkey+

    This one doesn't do "trunking" but it works for me.
    The Uniden Bearcat BC125AT can be found for $110 to $150 depending on whether you want it new or used.
    The "really easy" option is to use "Service Search" -- I think it is easiest to see in a video. Jump to 9:10 in the video and you will see that reviewer demonstrate it.
    In words, you can turn on a search through "Fire", "Police", "Marine" bands with the simple press of a button. For me, I could search "Ham", "Fire" and "Police" in my area at the same time. It also has a one-button "lock-out" feature -- if the scan repeatedly stops on the same channel with something I do not want to hear -- I just hold down the L/O button until I hear a beep.

    BTW, my area does not use digital for much, so this picks up what I want. But this low-end guy does not do trunking or digital modes.

    I feel that the Uniden is well built and mine has survived a couple of drops. You can read a full review here if you think the Bearcat would suit you.
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  13. Rainbird

    Rainbird Monkey

    I will echo a recommendation for the BC125AT. I got mine for $55 new on ebay and have enjoyed it immensely.

    You will need to check your area to make sure that the stuff you want to listen to is not digital/trunked. RadioReference is a good starting point, you can also use your search engine of choice for "<YourCityName> scanner frequencies" and likely find some additional reference material published and maintained by hobbyists/clubs closer to your area. You may also find a Yahoo Group or other mailing list specific to your area, where you can ask about specific services and get information hot off the press.

    Also keep in mind that there may be other emergency services in your area besides just the city police or county EMS. Colleges and universities will often have their own police and EMS teams, for example, or local transit providers may have a police department. Don't forget to include your local Public Works and power company as well! Many of these smaller-scale organizations might have analog radios simply because they have smaller "communication equipment" budget allocations.
    hitchcock4, Taku and 3M-TA3 like this.
  14. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Check that your local Public Service isn't encrypted. Many places have used DHS grants to upgrade to P-25 and encrypt every channel. You know, so the citizens...I mean bad guys can't listen in. I had a $500 hand held digital scanner rendered obsolete in one weekend when everything the Muni did went encrypted.

    The radioresource is THE scanner site to check.
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