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Radio problems added to Navy Yard chaos, union says

Sep. 19, 2013 - 05:58PM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments

The union representing firefighters who responded to the Navy Yard shooting Sept. 16 is calling for the resignation of anyone responsible at Naval District Washington for what he calls a “dysfunctional radio system.”

Gregory Russell, president of IAFF Local F121, which represents 250 federal civilian firefighters in the Washington area, said the radios are not able to transmit clearly through building walls and that during the shooting a battalion fire chief had to use a “runner” to go outside a safe building to transmit radio commands.

“It contributed to the chaos and delay in emergency response to the massacre,” Russell said.

Over the course of nearly an hour Sept. 16, Aaron Alexis shot and killed 12 people before being shot by police.

The Naval District Washington office did not respond to a request for comment.

Russell said the union had made Naval District Washington management aware of the issue as early as 2009 and as recently as six weeks before the shooting, but no one worked to solve the problem. He said he is not sure who is ultimately responsible but that Naval District Washington should find out and ask for that person’s resignation.

“This has gone on for a number of years and there has been no correction,” Russell said. “We want someone to take firefighter and police officer safety seriously.”

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