WSCA Rumour Mill Update – 11 October 2007

Proposed resource road radio protocols, provincial frequency reduction and programmable radio use:

Last month resource road truck drivers and government officials met in Prince George in response to a B.C. Coroner’s recommendation that the BC Forest Safety Council establish standardized resource road radio protocols for the province. The WSCA represented the silviculture industry which contributes thousands of worker-carrying light trucks and crummies to the flow of traffic each year. (see draft protocols below)

Not only do the varying radio call-outs require some standardization, but so do the uncontrolled proliferation of resource road radio channels across the province. Federal officials at the Prince George meeting described the Radio Channel Frequency Reduction project being implemented by Industry Canada in partnership with BC Timber Sales. This project intends to designate a block of radio frequencies for exclusive resource use across the province. There are ongoing pilots on the Coast and the North East working with 14 frequencies. Designated resource road channels will use narrow band, high and low power levels and tone coded squelch.

It is expected to take a few years to implement these changes across the province. It will involve displacing some current radio users and migrating others to the resource road frequencies. Unfortunately user programmable radios are not permitted by Industry Canada. This poses problems for transient silviculture crews who may be exposed to dozens of frequencies as they move across the province. The W.S.C.A. has made the point to Industry Canada that programmable radios are practical and essential tools the silviculture industry needs to keep their crews safe. Industry Canada has been asked by the association to consider some kind of interim permitting of programmable radios until the proposed frequency reduction project is successful. Talks are ongoing.

DRAFT STANDARD PROVINCIAL RADIO PROTOCOL:

1. Use “Up” for going in to the bush, “Down” for heading to highway

2. “Up” traffic clears “Down” traffic

3. Call “Direction – Km – Road” (type of vehicle still up for discussion; oversize or wide loads should identify themselves as such)

4. Convoy Calling: – Lead vehicle calls for however many are bunched together – If the vehicles are spread over 3/4km to 1km the “caboose” also calls (the last vehicle in the convoy) so oncoming traffic knows how far the convoy is spread out – All vehicles notify lead vehicle of change in status (pulling over, falling behind, etc) – All vehicles catching up to convoy, becoming the new “caboose”, notify lead vehicle – Vehicles who get separated more than ¾ km from convoy, start calling for themselves

5. All vehicles call at road entry

6. Default Rule: if you don’t know calling procedures (whether empties call or not), call every km until you’re corrected by local traffic. And call what the signs say. Eg: “Up, 12k, Eve River”

7. Signage should be standard for province; reflective; placed along roadside or where headlights will catch them, not up in trees or high banks.

8. Incorporate WSBC passing rules (no passing allowed unless vehicle in front signals by honking or flashing lights that it’s clear ahead; this applies to vehicles transporting persons as well as log trucks) OHS Sect 26.78

Your comments?

John Betts
Executive Director
Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association
Phone: 250-229-4380
hotpulp@netidea.com