Kern County Fire & Sheriff
Kern County Emergency Communications
by Dr. Pepper
    Kern County is an extraordinary County in South Central California. It stretches from the San Joaquin Valley in the West to the Mojave Desert in the East. It has an area larger that the state of 
Massachusetts and a population of  over a half million people.  The terrain combines flat farmland, rugged mountains, deep whitewater rivers and hot, dry desert. 

     The Kern County Fire Department has fire & rescue responsibility for the entire county. Fire Chief  Dan Clark manages five hundred people throughout Kern County. There are five Deputy Chiefs and five battalions.  The Emergency Communications Center (ECC) is located in Bakersfield, in eastern Kern County. The ECC  controls all of the emergency communications for the  county by using microwave links and repeater sites on mountain tops throughout the county. The microwave and UHF complex  was set up in the late 1970's, and has been in operation ever since. It is apparent that they did a pretty good job on this system, because as complex as it is, it still operates flawlessly today.  The Kern County Board of Supervisors are looking forward to passing a budget that will allow for a  complete modification of the radio system, going from UHF to VHF for the entire county. It is anticipated that this will eliminate some of the dead spots, and allow for better communications coverage along the Southern Kern River Canyon, where there are  some areas that resent some extremely difficult communications problems.  The narrow,  deep  twisting canyon is barely wide enough in spots, for a precarious, narrow, two lane road hanging over the Kern River Canyon. 

     The frequency assignments are color coded (see table 1) , with the Orange, (453.450), being used as  the dispatch channel. When an incident occurs, the ECC will go to orange, and assign a Battalion to handle it, and then send them to a tactical channel for the duration of the incident. The operations and tactical channels are also color coded, and are matrixed with similar frequencies for the sheriff , California Highway Patrol, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and California Forestry Service frequencies,  and they are used  along with the county fire frequencies. It is also important to understand that during extremely large incidents, that additional frequencies may be specifically assigned to that incident for that time, but will vanish afterwards. Many times these will result in names such as "Command 8", etc. There is a lot of BLM land in Kern County, and a great deal of property is managed by the California and Federal Forestry service.  The fire radio frequencies they use for individual fire incidents may vary, but most of these frequencies are assigned to the Boise Fire Cache, and are used by these services. During  recent incidents in the High Sierras, North of 
Tehachipi, there were a mix of these as well as frequencies assigned to the aviation band used to communicate with the air tankers and helicopters. 

Kern County Fire Department Engine Co. no74, Ridgecrest, California.
Kern County Frequencies
Channel One, western substations 453.700 MHz
Channel Two, eastern substations 453.400 MHz
Channel Three, county wide administrative channel 453.600 MHz
Channel Four, metropolitan Bakersfield 453.050 MHz
Kern County Fire Department Channels
Orange Channel, primary dispatch channel 453.450 MHz
Blue Channel, eastern incident channel 453.300 MHz
Yellow Channel, western incident channel 453.375 MHz
Metro Channel, metropolitan Bakersfield channel 453.725 MHz
Other Kern County Channels
Parks Department 153.785 MHz
Local government 155.880 MHz
Roads Maintenance 151.100 MHz
Probation Department 155.625 MHz
Agriculture Department 453.925 MHz
Red Channel, mutual aid 453.225 MHz
Kern River Canyon Call Boxes 453.2625 MHz
For more information and frequencies, get the book "The Scannerist".
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