Brevity codes

From The RadioReference Wiki


Brevity codes are lists of short coded messages -- 10-codes, 9-codes, signals, Q-codes, and the like -- which are used in voice radio communications for three main reasons:

  • they shorten transmissions,
  • they obscure meaning from the General Public, and
  • they provide users with a convenient dictionary of messages, such that everyone's working off the same sheet of music.

The latter of those three may well be the most important use of brevity codes, though it's rarely mentioned, and often not obvious even to regular users. When using a brevity code on the air, a police officer, paramedic, or street sweeper doesn't need to think about how to say what he wants to say, or what the message means; that part's been taken care of already.

The problem with brevity codes is the same as the problem with standards: there are so many of them -- this wiki carries many lists of them, promulgated by various authorities, all slightly different; more are on the web at large.

Because of this, the National Incident Management System had originally planned to forbid their use in the communications concerning any event managed by its Incident Command System process. That plan met the resistance you might expect from local agencies when it was announced, and they've since retreated from that position.

But the problems they identified with everyone having their own code list are still real, practical problems, which still need a real solution.

In any event, having lists of these codes makes listening to such communications easier and more fulfilling -- and sometimes more practically useful; not all scanner listeners are just doing it for fun.

Lists of Brevity Codes

  • Category:Brevity Codes and its subcategories list all of the articles that contain brevity codes. For your convenience, the category-links are listed below:

by US State


by Canadian Province

by Country: Africa

by Country: Asia Region

by Country: Caribbean Region

by Country: Central America

by Country: Europe Region

by Country: Oceania Region


Related Wiki Pages

Return to Wiki page: Scanning Q&A, 10 codes, Priority Dispatch Codes
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