Home Up


from: http://www.firehouse.com/news/2002/6/3_APfdnyradio.html
FDNY Revamps Radio System

Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York fire department is rolling out a revamped radio system to better handle emergencies such as the World Trade Center attack, which left many rescuers struggling to communicate.



Recent 9-11 Stories
bullet6/3: FDNY Revamps Radio System
bullet6/1: Heroes' Honors; Awards, Ribbons for FDNY
bullet Hundreds Salue 'Fireman's Fireman'
bullet5/29: Some Trade Center Remains Not Found
bullet5/29 Slideshow: Ground Zero Salute
bullet5/28: Last Standing Girder at Ground Zero Taken Down
bullet5/28: NYC Details Plans for WTC Ceremony
bullet5/28: World Trade Center Cleanup Near Done
bulletSlideshow: FDNY Engine 10/Ladder 10 at the Base of Ground Zero
bullet... All Regularly Updated Stories
Inside the Final Day at Ground Zero
bullet World Trade Center Tribute Begins
bullet Firefighters Have Mixed Emotions Over End Of Recovery
bullet Commentary: The Job's Not Done Until Our Fallen Are Honored
bullet Retired Firefighters Still Hope To Find Sons' Remains
bullet Ceremony to Mark End of WTC Effort
More 9-11 Coverage
bullet Firehouse.com's 9-11 Coverage
bullet9-11 Emergency Services Victims Database
bulletForward: E-Mail This Page to a Friend or Co-Worker
bulletInteract: Discuss This and Other Topics in the Firehouse Forums

``The communication was horrible and there's no disputing that,'' said Tom Manley, health and safety officer for the firefighters' union. ``You didn't get the necessary transmissions being heard. Some people heard, some people didn't.''

City officials have attributed part of the problem to the destruction of equipment called repeaters, which boost radio signals. The repeaters were mounted high in the trade center and in commanders' cars to amplify and retransmit signals. They were destroyed when the hijacked planes struck the buildings and debris crushed the vehicles below.

Firefighter unions said that long-standing radio problems in high-rise buildings also played a role.

Both say the new, $14 million system appears better suited to situations that could have hundreds of personnel from different agencies performing complex operations at great personal risk.

The handheld Motorola radios being tested for a late-summer debut operate at higher frequencies better able to penetrate concrete and steel than the radios in use Sept. 11, company and fire officials say.

They are expected to be augmented by new repeaters in 60 high-rise buildings, and radio antennas in subway tunnels, where firefighters also have long had communication problems.

Unlike the models they replace, the new radios are compatible with police, Office of Emergency Management and other city systems.

At ground zero on Sept. 11, one emergency official who did not have a fire department radio could not broadcast an alert that the north tower was in danger of collapsing. Instead, he had to send a subordinate racing across the trade center plaza to hand-deliver the message to a fire chief inside.

``Nine-eleven, of course, highlights some of the communication difficulties that we had,'' fire department spokesman Frank Gribbon said. ``We sort of knew all of this prior to 9/11, but after that event you see how critically important it is.''

The new radios can be programmed to operate on dozens of radio channels, preventing the fire department's usual single fire-scene channel from being congested during a large-scale incident such as the trade center attack.

The radios also allow firefighters in distress to alert others by hitting an emergency button instead of transmitting ``Mayday'' orally.