What radio would you grab in a fire?

Scott-Marine-SLR-M

Lately, fires have been on my mind. No doubt, this is because there are so many wildfires in the greater southern Appalachian region right now, which is in the midst of a record drought. Brush fires start up almost daily, and no rain is in sight.  In the mountains, the air is hazy with smoke, and it’s become a struggle for fire departments to contain these blazes, even with help from outside the region.

Living, as we do, in a forest, we’ve always had to think through contingency plans if a forest fire should threaten our home:  with only a two hour (or so) warning, what items would we grab and load into our truck?

Of course, we’d likely focus on those things that are irreplaceable and thus essentially invaluable: our few family heirlooms, boxes of photos, documents––you know, stuff you can’t buy.

But what about radios?  I hope I’ll never be forced to choose the one thing I should save from my shack, because there are several to which I’m rather sentimentally attached…There’s my Zenith Transoceanic, for example–the first proper shortwave radio I ever owned. There are also a number of vintage radios as well as some SDRs which have become my staple receivers.

Scott-Marine-SLR-M-Dial

In the end, though, there’s no question which radio I’d grab. It would have to be my Scott Marine Radio Model SLR-M, affectionately nicknamed “Scottie.”. True, she’s not even close to portable at a solid 90 pounds, but I’d strap her to the roof of my vehicle, if I had to.

Why?  Well, it’s the most pristine vintage radio I own, and I use it daily. If it’s not tuned to Radio Australia in the morning, it’s tuned to my AMT3000 AM transmitter on 1570 kHz drawing in any of a number of stations I relay from my WiFi radio.

Scott-Marine-Radio-SLR-M

Scottie simply isn’t replaceable. Even though my Elecraft KX3 probably costs more in terms of monetary value, I could eventually scrape together the money to buy another KX3. But I couldn’t buy Scottie again. Not this one.

So, there you go: after we’ve saved those things important to our family, I’d grab a 1945 receiver and haul it to safety.

Post readers: Now I’m curious–if your home was threatened by fire or other disaster, what radio would you save? Please comment!

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30 thoughts on “What radio would you grab in a fire?

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  3. RICK ATWOOD

    I would definitely take all three of my Hygain Galaxy R-1530s and the one SC-1530 and the original boxes that came with one station. This is definitely a heavy radio so keep them by the front door! This is by far one of the most unique receivers I have owned, almost a solid state boatanchor. I am a co-author of the new revision of Shortwave Receivers Past and Present. I have researched this receiver with great extent and only about 200 of these blue babies were produced in Lincoln, Nebraska at the old Hygain plant. I also got an opportunity to go through the old Hygain factory in Lincoln, Nebraska to see these rare units made in 1972. If you can get your hand on a Hygain Galaxy R-1530 or SC-1530, DO IT! You will not regret it.

    Reply
  4. Philip Brennan

    Hi Thomas
    So many hard decisions but I think I would have to save my FRG7 as it has the most sentimental value to me. The cold hard rational me would choose my Icom IC R75 though.
    Cheers ,Phil

    Reply
  5. Rob

    Of the seriously many radios I have, I’d probably grab the Hygain Galaxy R1530 as it’s the rarest and most expensive in the collection, but not the easiest to tote around (kinda big).

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Chris,

      I’m sorry you’ve been a victim of a fire. I can only imagine how devastating that must have been. Please understand, though, I meant no ill from the topic–merely an exercise of thinking through what, if any, items from our hobby are worth earmarking to remove should a fire threaten our home. It’s a reality we must plan for where I live.

      Again, sorry for what you’ve gone through.

      Thomas

      Reply
  6. Joey ke4drj

    My hq-129x. I got it at the Shelby hamfest when I was a teen. It’d use it till the wee hours of the morning. My log book is filled with stations heard on that rig. Unfortunately, many of then off the air now. Age has caught up with it and it now needs an alignment, but it still fires right up. Love that rig.

    Reply
  7. DanH

    This is a difficult question. I have several vintage communications receivers and other radios. We also have family heirlooms that will rate a ride in our two small cars. Don’t forget the silverware and photos! Given one hour to pack and go I’d save the Hammarlund SP-600 JX-21. It’s a radio I use every day and is in great condition. Only 65 lbs. Not much chance of finding another like it. I would also save my Dad’s Hammarlund RGB-2. I don’t want to think about the other radios I would need to leave behind. I’d also toss in the Sangean ATS-909X, ANT-60, AC/AC charger and AAs to keep me informed during the evacuation.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      In the end, I think many of the items I earmark for removal are those with sentimental attachment. I also have a small transistor radio my grandfather owned that, I’m sure, I’d pack as well. Tough choices.

      Reply
  8. Eric

    That’s a tough question, Tom, and the answer would involve knowing the situation the family and I would be moving into. If the situation were a regional one such as a widespread forest fire or other natural calamity, I’d be inclined to grab the Sony ICF-SW7600G and some AA batteries so we would have access to local AM and FM broadcasts. I’d probably also grab the dual-band HTs so the family could communicate with each other and with other local hams. All my amateur HF gear could be replaced with insurance money but if there was time and room in the car or van, I’d grab the Elecraft KX3 in its “Travel Kit” which would allow for regional HF communications and the ability to listen to shortwave broadcast. (The car or van would be packed: four adults, four cats, a dog, a snake, photos, papers, clothes, medicines, and everything else we would try to save. Chances are we’d be forced to use the van plus one or more of our other cars.)

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      And, in truth, I’d probably already have my KX2 and KX3 kits packed and ready to go, too. It’s still a difficult decision, though. Especially if time is of the essence. Of course, with fires, that’s not always the case, sadly.

      Reply
  9. Claudio Duffini

    Slightly off topic, but sorry: I would let all the radios burning down and would save my modular synthesizer 🙂

    Reply
  10. Ed McCorry

    Hi Thomas, glad your still hanging in there. As you know we have the opposite problem here with hurricanes and floods. Awhile back my wife took the thousands of photos that were in albums and scanned them and downloaded onto large flash drives which reside in one of those self sealing fire safes with all the important papers etc. When the box gets loaded, so do the family photos. So that’s one thing we don’t worry about.

    As for the radios, I always keep my pack rat bag loaded with the Icom V80 portable and Sony 7600GR so thats a no brainer. I guess the only desk model I would save is my Heathkit HR-1680 SSB receiver that I built back in 1976 which I can’t replace. I’m not so attached to any of the others that replacing with new would be a problem.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      If I had a Heathkit I had built, I’m sure I’d try to save it too, Ed!

      You’re right, hurricanes make you go through the same thought process.

      73,
      Thomas

      Reply
  11. West Coast DXer

    I’m toast if I try to get any of them as there on the 2nd floor insurance would have to cover the loss. I don’t have any antiques, just SDRs and a few portables. If I could save one it would be my Winradio G33DDC and my laptop.

    Reply
  12. Robert Gulley

    As an amateur I would have to take my all-mode Icom/tuner, but it’s small, and I wouldn’t be worrying about all the cables etc – those are easily replaceable. My FG-7 would be my main boat anchor, along with my Pan. RF-2200 and my Sony7600GR. A radio go-bag such as an old gym bag could handle lots of small radios without worrying about chargers etc – I can see myself swooping them all into a bag, including a scanner or two. I figure I could have a good haul of radios in about 5-10 minutes, especially since I do not have heirlooms as such. My laptop, maybe my desktop if there is time, and of course, first and foremost, everything needed for the dog and cat – THEY are irreplaceable!

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      Oh yeah! By the time I run into my house to grab the Scott, my family and dog would all be happily sitting in the car/truck!

      The FRG-7 and RF-2200 are classics! I love both.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

      Reply
  13. Barry Sallade

    I live 8 miles out of Hazard,Ky. (Busy/Willard,Ky)

    The smoke has been filtered through the trees on the hills and for the most part has not hampered our visibility on Hal Rogers parkway or side roads between home and Hazard. We have been lucky so far.

    Not sure i really have a favorite radio at this time, but save at least one radio, maybe my Grundig G3, it’s not the greatest radio but it’s all i have at the moment. If it was my old DX-390 that would go with me hands down. Nice Vintage Scott.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      Yeah, smole it certainly covering all of the eastern mountains. It’s very sad. It would be amazing if some rain would show up someday soon. It’d give those firefighters a chance for sure.

      Reply
  14. Tom Laskowski

    Being a ham I’d grab my Icom IC-718 since I can do all my radio hobbies with it. But I would keep my RF-2200 in close proximity so I could grab it too.

    Reply
  15. William Hansgen

    I am a ham. I would have to grab the Elecraft K2 if the flames were rising. But, oh, how I would miss the SDRplay RSP and the classic HQ-180.

    Reply

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