Officials hail bill to finance first responder communication network

When firefighters, police officers and other emergency workers rushed to lower Manhattan during the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, the challenges were overwhelming.

One of those problems was an inability for those first responders to stay in contact with each other.

U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley gathered with top officials from the city police and fire departments on Monday to hail legislation that could help correct those communication woes.

Photo Caption: Rep Joseph Crowley, center, FDNY Communications Chief Robert Boyce, left and NYPD Communications Chief Charles Dowd, right, discuss a bill that will help create a nationwide public safety communications network to better assist first responder communications. (Photo credit: NY Daily News)

“Too many firefighters and police officers could not communicate with each other,” said Crowley, as he stood in front of FDNY Rescue 4 on Queens Blvd. in Woodside. “They went into the buildings and had less of a chance of escape. No one can say what would be different if the radios worked.”

As part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, passed last week by Congress, the Federal Communications Commission will be allowed to auction off “broadcast and other spectrum for wireless broadband uses.”

A piece of that broadcast spectrum will be put aside for a national safety network.

Crowley’s office said the bill “mandates that $7 billion in funding derived from the sale of other spectrum be used to finance the creation of the first responder network.”

Robert Boyce, chief of communications for the New York City Fire Department, called it “one of the most significant events in public safety history.”

And Deputy Chief Charles Dowd, who oversees the NYPD Communications Division, said it will “revolutionize communications capability.”

By Lisa Colangelo, New York Daily News

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