Cop, FDNY radio boost sought for high-rises

Repeaters - amplifiers that allow police and fire radios to penetrate thick walls and tall buildings - could become standard equipment in high-rise buildings, under a bill being developed by two City Council members.

Problems with police and fire radios during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks illustrated the need for better communication systems, officials noted.

Council Minority Leader James Oddo (R-S.I.) and Madeline Provenzano (D-Bronx), chairwoman of the Housing and Building Committee, are meeting with FDNY officials and consultants who assessed the Sept. 11 response.

The Fire Department is currently evaluating its radio system, but Oddo said that's only part of the problem.

"You can have the best radios in the world," he said, "but if the infrastructure isn't in place, the radios are useless."

He wants to speak with consultants from McKinsey & Co., who suggested the city change its building code to require landlords to install repeaters in all buildings taller than seven stories. In its report, McKinsey estimated that would cost between $150 million and $250 million.

Deputy Fire Commissioner Daniel Shacknai said the department supports legislation that would require repeaters in high rises.

"It's a key point," he said.