Common inquiries and troubleshooting

The following are a collection of questions we’ve received from CREST users. If you have a question you’d like answered, please contact us.

Audio Quality
  • To maximize audio quality:
    • Speak directly into the radio’s microphone, and avoid putting your hand over it to press the transmit button.
    • Leave a little room between your mouth and the microphone — about four finger widths.
    • Turn off your portable radio if you’re in a vehicle with a mobile radio or in close proximity to other radios to avoid audio feedback loops.
    • Protect the microphone from the wind. Try turning your back to the wind, or if possible, cupping the microphone with your hands.
  • To help deal with background noise, the International Association of Fire Chiefs has identified a number of best practices to improve audio quality at a fire scene. For the field user, they include:
    • Using the radio to send a distress call before manually activating a PASS device.
    • Positioning the microphone 1–2 inches away from your mouth or voice port and pointing the microphone so you’re speaking directly into it, not across it.
    • Speaking with a loud, clear and controlled voice.
    • Shielding the microphone from noise sources, water and debris.
    • Using a free hand (if available) to muffle a mask-mounted low-air alarm when transmitting.
    • Locating your radio and microphone as far as possible from PASS devices and other equipment generating noise.
  • Coverage and audio quality can be improved by ensuring that your radio antenna connections are securely tightened. Portable radios will experience premature failure of the antenna connector and the antenna if it’s loose.
  • To report a problem, go to the CREST website, and enter make a trouble report. Fill in the fields and hit send. For any urgent problem that requires immediate attention, staff can be reached 24/7 at 250.995.5199.
  • To maintain the optimum performance of both the mobile and portable radios, CREST recommends using only qualified radio shops for any repair or maintenance work.
Talk Groups
  • To speak to emergency service providers from another organization, a mutual aid or FAP (Fire, Ambulance, Police) channel can be used. Contact your communications or training officer to determine your organization’s operational guidelines.
  • During critical incidents that require multi-agency response, you may be directed to either an FAP (Fire, Ambulance, Police) or mutual aid channel for use.
  • If you drive outside of your agency’s home area for a mutual aid situation, you should switch to a channel that is used by an agency in the area you’ve entered. Doing so will maximize your signal strength/reception.
  • If you are travelling outside of the CRD or CREST coverage area, it’s best to turn off your radio or turn it to a conventional radio channel (if available) to prevent affecting your agency’s communications while away.
  • If your radio is chirping like a bird, this is a warning that the battery is compromised and must be replaced at the earliest opportunity. Although you may be able to listen and talk on your radio, a low battery can seriously affect your radio’s range and audio performance.
  • Battery Charge Indicator Lights – What they Mean:
    • Flashing red = Battery not serviceable, return to CREST
    • Flashing yellow/orange = If the battery is very warm or cold, charging will start later, otherwise return to CREST
    • Steady red = Battery is charging and should not be used
    • Flashing green = Battery is still charging, but is at 90% or above
    • Solid green = Fully charged and ready for service
    • Flashing red/green = Battery not serviceable, return to CREST
    • Steady yellow/orange = Battery is undergoing a reconditioning cycle
  • If you feel that your battery isn’t performing the way it should, please have it exchanged at CREST’s west shore office. Batteries are a part of your radio and are fully covered by CREST.
Emergency Button Use
  • If you accidentally activate the emergency button on your radio, it can be canceled by holding down the emergency button until you hear the cleared emergency tone and ‘EMERGENCY’ no longer appears on the display screen.
  • When the emergency button is pressed, your radio will keep sending the emergency request until it receives an acknowledgement from the system (four successive beeps) AND you have hit the PTT. If you hit PTT before the radio receives an emergency acknowledgement, the radio will stop trying to send the emergency request.
Coverage or Reception Issues
  • If you’re unable to access the CREST system when you press the push to talk (PTT) button, you will hear a steady low frequency reject tone. Reasons for this can vary from someone already talking on the channel to being in a poor coverage location. If you are in an area that lacks coverage, your radio will show and signal an out of range tone. Lack of reception or coverage issues require additional measures and should bereported to CREST.
  • When there are no channels available, you will receive a busy signal. A busy signal is a fast intermittent bonk – similar to a busy signal on a phone. If you receive a busy signal, release the PTT button. The system automatically queues your call and when a channel becomes available, your call will be processed. While waiting for the call to be processed – which on average takes just 1 second — listen for a go-ahead tone and then press the PTT button to proceed with your call.
  • Where radios are worn matters.
    • A portable radio worn on the hip under the arm gets significantly less signal strength,
    • The same portable radio worn on the hip with the antenna swiveled from the body has considerably better coverage, and
    • The same radio worn at chest level or hand held has the best coverage.
  • Your radio automatically roams to the best available site during normal periods of operation. However, electronic interference can affect site selection. To manually change the site your radio is affiliated to, press and hold the site select/affiliation button until you hear a second tone.
  • Generally, radios don’t work as well below ground, and the more levels that you go down the harder it is for your radio to get a signal. Other locations, such as elevators, also obstruct a signal being transmitted or received. CREST channels do not transmit directly from radio to radio, but through a repeater. So, even though you can see your partner, it doesn’t necessarily mean the signal can get through to the repeater and back to your partner.