Online Police and Fire Scanners

Online police and fire scanners provide a fun and free way to get news as it happens. Check out these sites for free scanner streaming in your area

I received an email from “DL” about a few days ago asking if I had any recommendations for police scanners for her 72-hour kit. Unfortunately, I don’t have any recent experience in the area, but told her I’d do some looking around.

In the meantime, I thought it might be interesting to see if there were any live police/fire feeds online. BINGO! There are quite a few online sites that provide live feeds, and all you need is a computer with an internet connection. It can be a lot of fun to listen to what’s going on in your area via those feeds. What might be even more interesting would be emergencies, natural disaster or other large-scale events that you’ll be able to listen in on from across the country, something you wouldn’t be able to do with your own scan hardware unless you were in the same area. Some of these sites probably share a lot of the same information, but we’ve listed the best sites and apps we’ve found for online scanning below:

Favorite Online Police Scanners

Our favorite smartphone apps:

  • 5-0 Radio Lite- This is free, pretty basic scanner and the one we use most. Also available is 5-0 Radio Pro which we have not tested and is $1.99 in the Apple App Store.
  • Scanner911 – This app has some cool features including user recording and streaming. The app is only $0.99
  • Police Scanner – This app is $4.99, so we haven’t tested it.

Obviously these sites won’t be reliable in a disaster situation (lack of power, internet, computer, etc), so they’re no replacement for an actual scanner (especially battery-powered, handheld units). But they can be a lot of fun—and useful for those of us who spend a lot of time at the desk. Plus—they’re free!

After receiving her question from DL and thinking about the benefits, I’ve been looking for a good handheld scanner to add to my own bugout bag. I still haven’t decided on what to pick up (a lot of the scanners around $100 on Amazon have pretty mixed reviews), so if you have suggestions, please let us know.

And happy scanning!

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5 Responses to “Online Police and Fire Scanners”

  1. madmyk Says:

    I wouldn’t bother investing much in the way of scanners at this point.

    While you will have some(still quite a few at this time) local (city/county) agencies using “plain old radio” the future has arrived. In FL all state LEO, and even some other agencies, have gone to digitally encrypted VOIP. Short of hacking into a VERY secure computer network, you will not be scanning anything. The fed is onboard, many state/county agencies are onboard. They will all be going this way most likely. It has been claimed the reason for this is to ease communications between agencies. Get everyone on the same system and you do not have to worry about group a not being able to talk directly to group b.

  2. bcrockett Says:

    Ah- so that’s why my scanner went silent a few years ago. I though it was either broken, or the police department in my area had switched to the 800 frequencies.

    It’s too bad, I used to love listening–and scanners have been a great resource for news outlets, too.

    Although they only have one feed in my area, I’ve been enjoying on iTunes while I’m at work, thanks for the link.

  3. PNG Says:

    The hot thing in scanners right now is digital trunking.

    Most public-safety services use this approach, without scrambling or encryption.

    Analog scanners are useless, but the new generation of scanners include direct support for digital trunking.

    I bought a Uniden/Bearcat BCD 396T in about 2006, which totally restored my ability to listen to common public-safety traffic where I live.

    Some more sensitive government agencies use encryption on top of digital trunking, but there’s no strong survival-oriented motivation to listen to their transmissions. Unless you’re trying to survive an FBI manhunt, I suppose.

    In an emergency, being able to monitor fire and police agencies should be enough for most people, and these new scanners can do that in most areas. Regards, – PNG

  4. Live Police Scanner Says:

    I am dreading the day the police go digitally encrypted in my area. I run one of these live scanner web sites. Although I don’t listen myself too often, I know many will be dissapointed when they do make the switch. It’s only a matter of time

  5. Office Barbrady Says:

    I love listening to my scanners!