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Validating a New Standard That Passes the Harshest Tests

When firefighters combat intense flames, time is of the essence, and the stakes are high. They need their communications equipment to operate as designed under extreme conditions, ensuring unhindered connectivity and loud, clear audio. 

In June 2021, L3Harris Technologies introduced a new emergency radio solution, the XL Extreme™ 400P radio and XL Extreme Speaker Microphone, to address that need. At the time, the XL Extreme 400P represented the first and only handheld radio designed to meet the most rigorous two-way, portable RF device standards for emergency responder communications. 

The XL Extreme solution has been subjected in testing to extreme heat, continuous vibration, shock, deep water immersion, salt water, humidity corrosion and other similar challenging environments. It passed with flying colors. Given the solution’s ability to endure the harshest conditions, it doesn’t require a protective case. 

On December 14, 2022, L3Harris further validated the solution’s capabilities, announcing that both the radio and microphone, as well as the combined system, had all successfully met National Fire Protection Association specifications. 

“Our Extreme solution, certified to comply with NFPA 1802, is the most rugged and survivable radio we have ever produced and a true communications solution for the rigors of firefighting,” said Nino DiCosmo, President, Public Safety and Professional Communications, L3Harris. “We make concerted efforts to enhance the safety of those who protect our communities. The XL series is the culmination of years of customer engagements and investments to further improve the safety of first responders. At the end of the day, we want them to get home safely.” 

Promoting assurance & flexibility

NFPA created an industry baseline to ensure communication devices could withstand the harsh environments that firefighters often face. Meeting the specifications of NFPA 1802 gives firefighters who use the XL Extreme 400P radio and microphone the assurance that their communications equipment is designed to meet the highest standards of performance under the most unforgiving conditions and to optimize safety.

Being able to use the radio and microphone individually and as a combined solution provides fire departments expanded options. Flexibility, along with the XL Extreme 400P’s advanced features and ruggedness, offers firefighters a capability that is set apart.

“It offers a lot of forward thinking and advanced technology that radios in this day and age don’t have,” said TJ Martin, Public Information Officer and Communications Coordinator for the City of Parma, Ohio, Fire Department.

Shaping requirements and gathering insight

Since the formation of the NFPA Committee in 2013, L3Harris has served as an active member, helping shape requirements and investing thousands of hours into developing the standard.

Beginning in 2017, L3Harris met with representatives from public agencies in various cities and counties across the country. That engagement effort was designed to gather insight on what customers needed to improve their emergency responder communications capabilities.

“We met with representatives from fire agencies all across the country to ask them to detail a day in their life and to request, if possible, to ride along with them or attend training with them,” said Don Griffis, Principal Product Manager, Public Safety and Professional Communications, L3Harris. “We asked them to share what they liked about their current radio capabilities, what they didn’t like, and what they would like to add. Several of the key features of the XL Extreme 400P design were the result of feedback from the agency representatives we met with, and that feedback was shared with our engineering team.”

Translating feedback to features

That customer feedback informed several improvements and led to the XL Extreme 400P not only meeting but exceeding NFPA standards in at least one area.

“The XL Extreme 400 not only meets NFPA 1802 but exceeds it in LMR (Land Mobile Radios)-LTE (Long Term Evolution) converged operations,” said Griffis. “We can automatically move to an LTE system if the LMR system goes out of range of the portable. The product comes standard with integrated Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS and NFC operations, helping connect the end user back to their system by providing in-mask audio, streaming video, plus location and biometric data.”


Firefighters with NFPA-compliant XL Extreme Fire Radio


Just how tough is the XL Extreme 400P?

Consider the rigorous test parameters it withstood: 

  • Dropped from 10 feet multiple times
  • Broiled at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes
  • Shocked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes 6 times
  • Torched at 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 seconds
  • Frozen and functional at temperatures of -22°F (-30°C) and lower
  • Drowned at 5 meters for 4 hours
  • Abraded with corrosive salt water and humidity
  • Tumbled for 3 hours
  • Vibrated up to 3 hours
  • Stretched up to 35 pounds
  • Compressed up to 442 pounds


Learn more about NFPA standards