The REAL Rudy
The REAL Rudy

Fire Union Demands Inquiry Into Contract for New Radios
New York Times - March 25, 2001

"The president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, Kevin Gallagher, held a news conference to urge Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and the City Council to conduct the investigation, saying he was deeply concerned for firefighters' safety."

"On Wednesday, the department's 2,700 new radios were taken out of service. Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen had said that he was taking the action because a distress call from a firefighter trapped in a burning house in Queens on Monday went unheard by some of his colleagues."

"We should not have New York City firefighters out in dangerous life-threatening situations with faulty or untested equipment," said Mr. Gallagher, whose union represents the city's 8,000 firefighters."

"Let's put blame where it belongs, starting with an outside investigation into who in the Fire Department ordered or authorized the purchase of these radios and who made the decision to put them into the field without a proper evaluation of this essential life-saving equipment," he said.

"Mr. Gallagher's said his concerns were in some measure intensified by inconsistencies between statements Mr. Von Essen made at a news conference the commissioner held Wednesday and details that emerged later about the contract."

"Mr. Von Essen said at the news conference that the contract for the new radios was worth $4.5 million and that fire departments in Boston and Chicago were using the same product. But a report Friday night by WNBC-TV News said that the overall contract for the new Motorola digital communications network was worth $33 million and that the other cities' departments did not use the system."

Fire Officials Admit Procedural Lapse in Putting New Radios Into Service
New York Times - April 11, 2001

"Fire officials acknowledged at a City Council hearing yesterday that they had failed to follow a safety protocol developed after the deaths of two firefighters when they decided to buy $15 million worth of new hand-held radios that later had to be withdrawn from service."

"The protocol directs the Fire Department to test new safety equipment fully and to consult the department unions before putting it into service. The system was developed by the Department of Investigation in 1980 after two firefighters died when a new type of safety rope snapped at a Manhattan fire."

"And the report suggested that the department's internal investigation into the radios was misguided. "It has been 20 days since the F.D.N.Y. commissioner's decision to recall the XTS3500R digital radios,"" the report said, "and the F.D.N.Y. has yet to interview key witnesses or release any results of its reported investigation."

"Fire Dept. to Start Reissuing Radios Pulled Last Year"
New York Times - August 6, 2002

"The Fire Department will begin reissuing new, but controversial, handheld radios to firefighters on Staten Island later this month and, if all goes well, will distribute them citywide in the fall, Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said yesterday."

"The city had pulled the radios from service in March 2001, and resumed using older equipment, after a firefighter's call for help during a Queens fire went unheard. But the performance of the older equipment on Sept. 11 has been criticized by some fire officers who say communication problems that day contributed greatly to the deaths of 343 firefighters."

"Many firefighters, some using radios as much as 10 years old, apparently did not hear an evacuation order transmitted before the twin towers collapsed, a consultant for the city has concluded."

"Panic and chaos on new tapes from 9/11"
San Francisco Chronicle - Thursday, August 17, 2006

"Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani testified several years ago that the firefighters who died were "standing their ground" to help victims."

"But the release of the tapes Wednesday reinforced what earlier tapes, investigations and a new book -- "Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11" -- have made clear: that Giuliani and his top aides did not put in place a clear chain of command for police officers and firefighters, which led to much confusion at the scene. And firefighters never heard calls to leave because they carried outmoded radios that did not work inside the stairwells of the burning towers."

"After the South Tower collapsed, pilots in police helicopters used their radios to warn that the North Tower, too, was near collapse. But most of the 121 firefighters who died in the North Tower never heard those broadcasts. Indeed, some firefighters were not even aware that the South Tower had fallen."

NYC Council Report
Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services

Oversight: The Procurement, Distribution and Testing of Digital Two-Way Radios by the Fire Department - April 10, 2001

"On March 14, 2001, the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) issued new Motorola XTS3500R digital two-way radios (commonly referred to as "handie-talkies") to firefighters throughout the City. On March 19, 2001, while firefighter Luke Healy was battling a fire in the basement of a home on Myrtle Avenue in Richmond Hill, Queens, his oxygen tank began to expire. As Healy attempted to exit the basement, his oxygen tank ran out. Initial reports indicated that Healy’s seven Mayday calls went unheard by firefighters at the scene and that they were only alerted to his need for assistance after a firefighter at another location, ten blocks away, heard a Mayday call from Healy. Subsequently, FDNY documents revealed that Deputy Chief Weinlein, who was at Myrtle Avenue, reported that he and another FDNY official at the scene heard a Mayday, but that when he used the radio to ask who transmitted the Mayday, no one answered. According to Deputy Chief Weinlein, Healy was eventually found by officers who heard his calls for help from the basement, not over the radio. On March 21, 2001, the FDNY announced that the following day, the newly issued radios would be recalled from the field with the intention of addressing operational issues with the radios and returning them to service shortly."

"Subsequently, it was revealed that during the eight days the new radios were in the field, firefighters experienced numerous problems with them, such as delays in transmission, messages not being received, messages getting cut off, and an echoing effect contributing to poor sound quality."

"Thus, despite its acknowledgment two years earlier that several manufacturers were developing technology that might meet FDNY's CAI specifications, and in apparent disregard of its pledge to evaluate new technologies and products, the FDNY appears to have elected to accept a radio representing an entirely new communications technology from Motorola rather than conduct a competitive review of products and prices."

"Compounding its failure to subject this new communications technology to a competitive procurement process, the FDNY also exceeded the 1997 contract’s ceiling on the number of radios to be procured (750 units) and the amount of the contract, $2.9 million. In December 1999, the FDNY ordered 2,700 XTS3500R radios from Motorola, and in 2000, ordered another 1,118 radios. The total cost for the 3,818 radios was approximately $14 million."

"…all information provided to date indicates that the XTS3500R's were not adequately tested to ensure that they would meet the FDNY’s operational needs, and that FDNY firefighters and officers were not sufficiently trained in operating the new radios."

"The FDNY has stated that its Rescue 2 unit tested the radios from July 23, 1999, to August 1, 1999. However, although the Rescue 2 unit tested an analog, VHF model of the XTS3500R, the FDNY purchased a digital, UHF model. Thus, the Rescue 2 unit never tested the radios or technology subsequently purchased by FDNY."

Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani And 9/11 (Amazon)
By Wayne Barrett & Dan Collins
Chapter 7 – Sounds of Silence

A thorough examination of The City’s sole bid process with Motorola as well as their failure to replace archaic radios with appropriately tested radios which subsequently lead to miscommunications and loss of lives on the morning of September 11, 2001.

U.S. Fire Administration/Technical Report Series (pdf)
February 1993

"A major detriment to our ability to strengthen control of the incident was fire department on-scene communications. Communications were a serious problem from the outset."

"Generally the problems were caused by one or more of the following factors:

  • The number of resources using channels;
  • Not enough channels for operational areas;
  • Distance problems - lost messages;
  • The inability to contact other agencies."

"Fireground communications have become a major concern of FDNY..."

- Sec 2:6

A 192-City Survey (pdf)
June 2004

"The United States Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more."

"Our new survey finds that more than 77 percent of the cities in the survey are interoperable across police and fire departments."


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