||It's the PECKING ORDER!
By Chief Billy Goldfeder
Here is another followup regarding the
FDNY radio situation. The below article is a pretty good analysis from
Long Island Newsday. One of my readers (and friend!) contacted me the other
day and asked why am I on a "radio rampage....again?" I like that term..."Radio
Rampage"...naaaah, I don't think it's a rampage...just concerns: provable,
measurable, documented & valid ones that are directly related to FF's
(NY and beyond...) abilities to do the job safely.
To me, this is simple stuff. As I have
said before...I will quit writing and forwarding this stuff when it is
either fixed or we are wrong. Of course, maybe if the radio system worked
better there would not have been such a horrible loss of life on 9-11-01
following the attacks and subsequent collapse of the buildings...does that
then justify a rampage? Look at the NYPD radio system..it works pretty
well. Is that "rampagable" ? (When you write your own stuff...you get to
INVENT your own words!)
Over the years, it's become real clear
to me how stuff in most local governments work. Ya see, things tend to
get fixed and/or taken care of when you are in the right "pecking order".
Probably a good example would be this: If a Mayor, City Manager, Commissioner,
Board or Council Member or some other bureaucratic big shot's equipment-that
they are dependent on didn't work right...it would be fixed...right? Sure!
Just look around you. You see it everyday. Their offices gets cleaned,
their staff cars get serviced, the computers are the newest etc etc....they
are the priority. Nothing new...kinda the way it is, right!?
On the other hand, when equipment failures
don't directly effect the big shots abilities to happily function, succeed,
suck up, make money or get re-elected....it tends to end up on the back
burner. BUT...let it effect them directly, and just like magic-the stuff
gets handled. Why-cause it effected THEM. DAMN! Sorry...there I go on a
"radio rampage" again. I'll tellya what--I'll take a breather...get some
quick therapy...and let the below reporter cover for me tonight. And after
you read that...think about how any of this applies to YOUR fire department.
How would this be handled in your community? And while we are discussing
this kind of stuff...how is YOUR radio system? Whats the future plans for
your system?...uh oh!!...don't tell me that "they" are looking into digital
radio systems for YOUR firefighters as well. Has ANYONE done ANY homework?
Course, it may not matter-it ALL depends on where YOU fit in...in the PECKING
ANALYSIS: Static For Council On Fire
By William Murphy-STAFF WRITER
Newsday (New York, NY)...09/24/2002
If the deaths of 343 firefighters do not
get the City Council's attention, what will?
Critics say the question remains unanswered
after the council took a cautious stance when unions representing those
firefighters demanded a more thorough investigation of the response to
the World Trade Center attack. The chairwoman of the council's Fire and
Criminal Justice Services Committee, Yvette Clark (D-Brooklyn), said she
didn't know what more there was to learn about what happened that day,
and whether faulty radios or other problems contributed to the loss of
life. "I'd like to know ultimately what it is that we'd like to get from
the hearing," she said. Given the chance to elaborate, a spokesman for
Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan) took a pass and let Clark's
statement stand as the official reaction of the city's legislative body.
That did not sit well with Stephen Cassidy,
president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association."If they don't have
the gumption to put their names on a subpoena, then their names aren't
worth the stationery they're printed on," Cassidy said. The council is
poised to play a pivotal role, if it wants, in the review of the Sept.
11 response and probing the radios' operation and in any of the dozens
of questions that have arisen. The two unions representing the dead firefighters
are not satisfied - not with the Fire Department's answers to date and
not with the council's role as a check on the executive branch. "It's time
to tear down the red wall of silence at the FDNY," Capt. Peter Gorman,
head of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said last week. At the
heart of the unions' anger is the purchase of new portable radios more
than two years ago under questionable circumstances. The radios were supposed
to modernize and even revolutionize communications, using digital technology
instead of the standard analog technology now in use.
But the radios were a problem almost immediately.
They were put into service without field testing, had a lag between the
time a transmit button was depressed and a message could be sent, and were
no better than the old radios in high-rise buildings, where concrete and
metal interfered with transmissions. Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta
told the council last week that much of the problem with the radios was
with the power boosters and other parts of the "infrastructure" rather
than the radios themselves.
The FDNY has had problems with both old
and new models of radios.
March 14, 2001
Motorola XTS 3500 digital radios go into
use. A report the same day from a Brooklyn fire said sound distortions
were so great that some messages could not be understood.
March 19, 2001
Firefighters at a Queens blaze could not
hear a May Day call on the new radios.
March 21, 2001
FDNY recalls new radios and puts old Motorola
Sabre III models back in service.
Spring 2001 Debate over new radios
becomes political, with Mayor Rudolph Giulilani blaming FDNY for lack of
training, and Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen admitting the department
violated its own policy by failing to consult with unions before buying
Sept. 12, 2001
First of many reports that the radio system,
using the old hand-held Sabre radios, did not work properly at the World
March 27, 2002
FDNY begins retesting the new radios at
training facility on Randalls Island, but stops May 1 after union complains
of lost and garbled transmissions.
Aug. 6, 2002
Fire union officials report tests of the
new radios over a nine-day period in high-rise buildings revealed more
Aug. 19, 2001
A consultant, McKinsey & Co., releases
a report saying that old radios at the trade center could not work reliably
without a power booster system and the existing booster did not function.
Sept. 17, 2002 Fire Commissioner
Nicholas Scoppetta says communications problems on Sept. 11 were not due
to the radios, but the lack of antennas, signal boosters and other "infrastructure.
"DIFFICULTIES WITH THE MOTOROLA XTS 3500-Lost
or garbled transmissions...Cuts off first few words of a transmission....May
Day button improperly located for firefighter use.