RADIO STATIC: UNION VOWS SUIT VS. FDNY

By MARIANNE GARVEY

September 20, 2002 -- The city's firefighters union yesterday threatened legal action to ensure an independent investigation into the failure of their radios while they battled the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers on Sept. 11.

"Without an independent investigation, the facts will never be told," Uniformed Firefighters Association President Stephen Cassidy said yesterday.

"Our lives and civilian lives are in danger every day because of this."

Cassidy said FDNY brass knew there were problems with the radios since 1993, when the World Trade Center was first attacked.

"It's been more than eight years, and the radio problem has not been solved," he said.

Cassidy said the union would go to court to force an investigation.

"Only if current and past FDNY leaders are put under oath and key Fire Department documents are subpoenaed may we finally know the real truth," he said.

The union's demand came two days after Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta told the City Council that it could be several years before firefighters have the necessary equipment for reliable communication inside the city's tallest buildings.

But Scoppetta said radios alone would not solve the problem.

"It's not radios, it's infrastructure," he said. "We don't know yet what will be needed."

Scoppetta, who has put improved communications at the top of his agenda, has called for the city to require skyscrapers to be retrofitted with radio-signal boosters - although such boosters were in place at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.


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