New York Fire Department Gets New Emergency Radios
By Murray Weiss

A fire captain tolling in an FDNY lab crafted a powerful new radio from $1,000 worth of parts that might help overcome widespread communication woes that contributed to firefighter deaths in the September 11 attacks.

The experimental radio, which broadcasts a signal 10 times stronger than hand-held devices, successfully carried messages through dozens of floors of high-raise buildings in several recent experimental tests, officials said.

Capt. Michael Stein, 45, a 24-year veteran in charge of the FDNY research-and-development unit for the last three years, created the radio last spring and honed its capabilities during dozens of field tests and elaborate drills. The radio, which looks like a black lunch pail, could provide a low-budget solution. Commanders citywide could be equiipped with the units at a total cost of about $50,000, the FDNY said.