NYFD commissions radio study

McKinsey & Company Report on Increasing FDNY's Preparedness

iXP Corp. has been hired to look at ways to improve the New York Fire Department's radio system.

The company, which helped develop the city's emergency 911 system, will study the fire department's voice and data network and recommend upgrades where needed, said Richard Dale, chief executive officer of New Jersey-based iXP. Dale's company will also examine interoperability needs between the fire and police departments so the groups can talk to one another during a crisis.

"We will be not only looking at making sure that they've got the appropriate technology for New York City," he said, "but we will also be helping them with legislation relative to the building codes (to) facilitate in-building communications radio systems."

So when developers plan new construction or major remodeling, they would have to ensure emergency communications would be supported in high-rise buildings, Dale said. The company will also study what technology can be implemented for first responders in existing high-rise structures.

iXP is expanding on the broad recommendations issued by McKinsey & Co., a management consultant hired by the police and fire departments to study what happened on Sept. 11, 2001. Twenty-three police officers and 343 firefighters died responding to the World Trade Center attacks that day.

The 105-page McKinsey report, released last year, pointed to the problems associated with sporadic communication between commanders and firefighters, partly due to malfunctioning repeaters, which are devices that boost signals. Additionally, emergency medical services personnel faced radio congestion.

The report recommended the department address how it evaluates, acquires and deploys technology and communications equipment and protocols. McKinsey also urged the department to accelerate testing of UHF portable radios purchased in 1999, revamp city codes to facilitate communications in high-rise buildings, and test and deploy repeaters in those structures.

It's unclear how long it will take for iXP to issue more specific recommendations that will further upgrade the fire department's radio infrastructure, because it has to go through the city's contracting process, Dale said. He said there will be separate contract for implementation stemming from recommendations.

Dale said iXP is also involved in a separate New York project involving the oversight of the modernization of the fire department's five computer-aided dispatch centers throughout the city.


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