Resource road radio communications
Last updated: April 15, 2021
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Government in collaboration with industrial and other stakeholders have implemented standard radio communication protocols on Forest Service Roads (FSR) and other natural resource roads across the province. FSRs with industrial activity and many other resource roads have adopted and are using the standard protocols which consist of:
- Standard call protocols - call content and order
- Standardized signage
- Dedicated, standardized bank of resource road radio channels
The standard bank of resource road mobile radio channels is available, to those with mobile radio licenses, for programming at local commercial mobile radio shops. Radio spectrum communications in Canada is administered and licensed by the federal agency, Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED). In accordance with the Radiocommunications Act, a mobile radio license is required to operate on commercial land-mobile mobile radios, such as those used on resource roads. You can find mobile radio license application information at: Mobile Radio Station License. Radio licence inquiries and submissions for license applications may be made to the local ISED office as found through this link: ISED Addresses and Telephone Numbers of District Offices.
It is important to note that not all resource roads have adopted the protocols and standard bank of resource road radio channels. It is recommended that road users retain current radio frequencies until such time that they are sure they are no longer required.
Most resource roads are "radio assist" and use of mobile radios for communicating location and direction is not mandatory. Always drive safely according to road and weather conditions and if using a mobile radio, do not solely rely on mobile radio communications recognizing that not everyone has or is using a mobile radio.
In the transition to new resource road radio channels and communications protocols, resource road users are advised to exercise additional caution when traveling on resource roads. Drive safely according to the road conditions and weather at all times. This should be communicated by employers to all their affected employees and contractors.
Most Forest Service Roads and natural resource roads are radio-assisted, but not all roads are radio-controlled. Road users are reminded not to drive exclusively according to the radio. Where posted, road users using mobile radios must use the posted channels and call protocols.
Mobile radio communication on resource roads had been historically highly variable across B.C. for a multitude of reasons:
- Road users were required to know unwritten local protocols
- Heavy radio traffic caused overlapping calls and interference
- Radios had to be reprogrammed to local channels with each location change
- Road signage was inconsistent and unclear
A standard mobile radio communications protocol was been developed to standardize and simplify, and thus make travel on resource roads safer.
A standard bank of resource radio channels has been provided by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) for dedicated use for mobile radio communications on resource roads in B.C.. ISED is the federal agency with the responsibility for licensing radio spectrum in Canada. By agreement, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is responsible for administering the use of the standard bank of resource road radio channels in B.C.
The standard bank of resource road radio channels are distributed across the B.C. landscape to minimize the likelihood of interference. Channel assignment maps have been developed, and periodically are changed, to reflect channel assignments as planning tools. In some cases, the channel assignments have not been implemented on the ground, and should not be relied upon for appropriate channel selection. The radio channel signage in the field will govern over the maps at all times. See the mobile resource road radio planning maps:
In order to effectively manage the resource road radio channels for long term use, the following procedure has been established for modifying radio channel assignments in the field:
The intent of this document is to recommend best practices for mobile 2-way radio communications on B.C.'s radio-assisted resource roads, and to highlight important considerations for radio installation and maintenance:
Sign materials and formats were standardized to compliment the new resource road mobile radio communications protocols. Learn more about standard signage for Forest Service Roads:
B.C. Forest Road Radio Protocol wallet cards are available to download and print:
In order to make the cards print correctly on business card stock, make sure the Page Scaling print setting is set to "None" instead of "Printable Area."
Before communication protocols could be implemented on resource roads, pilot projects were initiated in Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and in the South Peace areas of British Columbia. Learn more about the pilots: