August 5, 2002
Union Demands New FDNY Radios
By THE ASSOCIATED
Filed at 9:55 p.m. ET
NEW YORK (AP) -- A fire officers' union demanded Monday that the fire
department speed replacement of the handheld radios that failed during the
World Trade Center attack.
Peter Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said
the Fire Department of New York's four-month timetable for a final test on
the radios was too slow, endangering firefighters and the public.
``We can't wait that long,'' Gorman said. ``We've waited long enough on
Motorola digital radios being tested
are the same ones introduced more than a year ago, withdrawn because of
problems and replaced by analog radios before Sept. 11.
Gorman said that if the tests don't pan out, the FDNY should scrap the
radios and look for alternatives.
The UFOA represents 2,500 captains, lieutenants and battalion chiefs in
the 11,500-member department. Representatives of other fire unions also
attended the news conference.
The fire department said in a statement that it was conducting a
``thorough and comprehensive testing program'' for firefighter radios,
scheduled to end Aug. 24.
``The department is compelled to fully test these radios and make certain
that they are safe for use by firefighters,'' the statement said. ``This is
being done as quickly as possible with the overriding, paramount concern for
The department announced plans in June for a revamped radio
communications system designed to cope better with major emergencies.
The system involves upgraded versions of the digital radios that were
pulled back after an unsuccessful test run in March 2001. The Motorola
digital radios were replaced by models from the less-efficient analog
system; the analog radios proved inadequate during the trade center calamity
that took 343 firefighters' lives.
Gorman said a consultant's study is expected to show that ``virtually no
one heard'' an order to evacuate the north tower 27 minutes before the south
The 3,800 Motorola radios were part of a $14 million program to improve
communications at fire scenes, especially in high-rise buildings.
Motorola company officials said the overloaded communications network was
the real problem on Sept. 11.
``If you have 400 or 500 people trying to talk at once, it's a wonder
anyone heard the transmissions,'' said John McFadden, a company spokesman.