For Dispatch-related questions I suggest checking out the following pages:
Frank Raffa's site: http://www.fdnewyork.com
Main site: http://nycfire.net/fdny/communications
FDNY VHF/EMS UHF Radio Frequencies: http://www.n2nov.net/nypd_ems.html
FDNY/EMS UHF Frequencies: http://nycfire.net/forums/index.php/topic,1289.0.html
Q: What are the "Citywide" frequencies?
A: Citywide 1, the only Citywide frequency under the older VHF broadcast frequencies, is used primarily by special operations units and staff chiefs. This is where units located at 9 Metrotech, the Rock, or Special Operations Command @ Roosevelt Island as well as the Safety Battalion can be raised when they are available. The department's radio mechanics, in charge of maintaining rig radios, MDTs, and sirens, are also dispatched on Citywide. Lastly, progress reports for incidents of All-Hands or greater, special unusual incidents, and all transmissions of a 10-45 (fire-related injury) are relayed to Citywide by either the borough of incidence of the FieldCom Unit. Citywide 2 is not yet in use.
Q: What is the difference between the VHF and UHF frequencies? Will I hear the same thing on both?
A: FD Communications is in the process of switching over from an older VHF radio frequency to the more fine-tone and wide-broadcast UHF. While the change occurs, all frequencies will be simulcasting on both UHF and VHF frequencies. The most notable change for some listeners will be the separation of Staten Island and Bronx into two separate frequencies.
Q: What is a "Class 3" alarm?
A: A Class 3 alarm is a signal received from an alarm system, either via automated system or manual pull. For example: "Class 3 Box 620 Terminal 1 for the address 425 East 25 St for an ASA automatic alarm" means that an automated signal was received from the ASA company for Box 620 from fire station terminal 1.
Q: What is a class E, J, etc. alarm?
A: Under national standards fire alarm systems fall under various classes, labeled by alphabet. Two of the more common ones in NYC are Class E and J. Alarm types are separated by a variety of factors including: sprinklers, automatic responses, visual alerts, audio alerts, fire communications within the building, standpipes, etc.; class E for example includes full automated system including sprinklers, alarms, and light warnings. Different alarm classes warrant different response assignments. For example manual pull alarms receive a full 3 engine, 2 truck, Battalion response, whereas Class J alarms may be investigated by a single engine and truck with a Battalion chief monitoring.
Q: Who/what is Car [insert number]? How do they respond?
A: The Car assignments are the designations for special personnel, either administrative or command, who are associated mainly with FD HQ. For example, Car 36B is for the Department Chaplain. There are certain responses, such as a third alarm or 10-60 transmission, that require the response of certain cars. For example, multiple alarms requires the response of the on-duty staff chief (a chief at rank DAC or above). There is a list of car assignments at: http://www.firebellclub.org/cars.html
Some Car assignments and who they are (as of November 2009):
Car 1 (Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro)
Car 1A (Executive Assistant to the Commissioner)
Car 2 (1st Deputy Commissioner Daniel Shacknai)
Car 3 (Chief of Department Edward Kilduff)
Car 4 (Chief of Fire Operations James Esposito)
Car 4A (AC James Manahan, Assistant Chief of Operations)
Car 4C (AC Ronald Spadafora, Chief of Logistics)
Car 4D (AC Joseph Pfeifer, Assistant Chief of Operations - Counterterrorism/Preparedness)
Car 4G (AC Edward Baggott, Assistant Chief of Operations - Administration)
Car 4H (DAC James Daly Jr, Deputy Assistant Chief of Operations - Planning & Strategy)
Car 5 (Chief of EMS Operations John Peruggia)
Car 6 (AC John Sudnik, Manhattan Borough Commander)
Car 7 (DAC James Leonard, Brooklyn Borough Commander)
Car 8 (DAC Michael Marrone, Staten Island Borough Commander)
Car 9 (DAC Robert Maynes, Queens Borough Commander)
Car 10 (DAC Kevin Butler, Bronx Borough Commander)
Car 11 (AC William Seelig, Chief of Special Operations Command)
Car 11A (BC Stephen J. Geraghty, Chief of Rescue Operations)
Car 11B (DC Nicholas Delre, Chief of HazMat Operations)
Car 11C (BC James Dalton, Chief of Marine Operations)
Car 12 (AC Stephen Raynis, Chief of Safety and Inspectional Services)
Car 13 (AC Thomas Jensen, Chief of Fire Prevention)
Car 13A (AC Richard Tobin, Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention)
Car 13B (DAC Joseph Woznica, DAC of Fire Prevention)
Car 14 (Chief Fire Marshal Robert Byrnes)
Car 15 (AC Thomas Galvin, Chief of Training)
Car 15A (DAC James Mooney, Chief of Fire Academy)
Car 16 (AC Robert Boyce Jr., Chief of Communications)
Car 17 (BC Michael Gala Jr., Chief of Personnel)
Q: What is the FieldCom? What's the difference between FieldComs 1 and 2?
A: Staffed by 2 dispatchers and a firefighter, the FieldCom unit assists with communications on the fireground and between the Incident Commander and the borough of incident. It responds automatically on all second alarms, as well as below-grade level emergencies, high-rise incidents, and any other boxes where communications may be disrupted. FieldCom 1 is the primary unit, FieldCom 2 is a reserve unit on a small Sprinter chassis.
Q: What are the Mobile Command Centers? How do they differ from the Incident Management Unit?
A: The two large Mobile Command Center units are used for incident command at large-scale operations. They facilitate communications and provides a command post for chiefs to operate from. The smaller IMT Unit is used at major incidents for the Incident Management Team, who plot out how to progress with the operation.
Q: I heard on the air that searches are delayed due to "Collyer's Type Condition." What does this mean?
A: The Collyer brothers were found dead in their Harlem brownstone in 1947 in what could only be described as a mini-landfill. It took several weeks of clearing out before the decomposed body of one of the brothers was found. The Collyer's type (or Collyer's Mansion) condition refers to an area that even under regular circumstances would be difficult to get around.
Q: What are the 10-45 codes? How are they different from the 10-37 and 10-31 codes?
A: A 10-45 is transmitted for when a civilian is injured in a fire and requires medical assistance. The 10-37 codes by comparison are used for any form of non-fire related medical assistance, while the 10-31 code is for any other form of civilian assistance, raging from assisting with a lockout to a stuck elevator.
The 4 code levels of the 10-45 correspond with the EMS trauma tags:
- Code 1: Black Tag - Victim is deceased. Does not require immediate attention
- Code 2: Red Tag- Immediate. Victim has life-threatening injuries and requires immediate attention/transport
- Code 3: Yellow Tag- Delayed. Victim has injuries that will require further, but not necessarily immediate, attention
- Code 4: Green Tag- Minor. Victim is "walking wounded." Minor injuries that can be treated on scene and do not require immediate attention.
The 4 code levels of the 10-37 correspond with victim condition:
- Code 1: Victim is deceased
- Code 2: Victim is not breathing, CPR may be required.
- Code 3: Victim is breathing with illness.
- Code 4: EMS is on scene and FD has no patient contact but may still operate (i.e. using apparatus for scene blocking)
Q: What are Queens Boxes 269 and 37, and why are they automatic 2nd alarms?
A: These are the crash boxes for JFK and LaGuardia Airport, respectively. These can only be transmitted via manual/verbal alarms from the airport towers and are transmitted for an aircraft in distress. Each box brings an automatic second alarm (8 engines, 4 trucks, 4 battalion chiefs, 1 division chief, tactical support unit, satellite company, Rescue, Squad, FieldCom, and a FAST company) as well as an additional Rescue, HazMat 1, HazMat Battalion, 2 additional satellites, the nearest Hosewagon (see below), the nearest Foam company, and the HazMat Battalion. The boxes corresponding to the Airport firehouses and rendezvous points with Port Authority PD fire units.
Q: What is a staging box?
A: As its name implies, a staging box is a box transmitted for companies to respond to specific location to standby for further orders. These can be dispatched for a variety of reasons; some examples are:
- Any 10-76 in Lower Manhattan requires staging Boxes 9031 and 9032 to be transmitted in Brooklyn for companies to standby at the bridges.
- At times of heavy fire activity in Staten Island, staging Box 400 may be transmitted for companies to stage at E160's quarters in order to ensure adequate fire protection on the island.
- An incident at Penn Station in Manhattan may be accompanied by Box 8550, which sends an engine, truck, and chief to each standby at each end of the East River Tunnel, plus a Rescue company to the Queens side.
Q: What does it mean when a Rescue or Squad is "normally assigned"?
A: Squad companies respond normally as Engine companies in their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd due areas. For example, Squad 18 would be the 1st due engine to Box 508, but would be a Squad at Box 597 (where they are 4th due). Rescues have their own 1st due areas, in which they'll respond 1st due to structural alarms. For example, Rescue 1 would be assigned to reports of a structural fire at Box 912, but not to a class 3 alarm or a car fire.
Q: What does it mean when a company responds "emergency mode" or "modified response"?
A: For certain "minor" structural alarms such as reported gas leaks and automatic alarms, a full structural box is assigned. However, only the 1st due engine and ladder respond on these calls with lights and sirens (emergency mode), while all other companies follow normal traffic regulations (modified response). Companies may be upgraded or downgraded from/to modified response based on additional info.Apparatus
Q: Who are the primary manufacturers of FDNY rigs?
A: Most engines, trucks, and rescues are made by Seagrave or Ferrara. Chief and support vehicles are usually on Ford, Chevy, or GMC SUV or pickup chassis. The majority of units are purchased via competitive bidding.
Q: What is the difference between a "Spare" and a "Reserve" apparatus?
A: The 25 Reserve Engine companies and 10 Reserve Trucks are fully equipped at all times and are quartered with regular companies citywide. They are put into service on short-term basis when needed and operate as a regular company when in-service. Spare apparatus by contrast are rigs kept at the Shops, not equipped with tools that are assigned to companies when their rigs are at the shops, usually on a long-term basis. When a company receives a spare they must move all their tools over to the spare. Spare units are usually identified by markings in sticker/duct-tape form, or at times not at all. Usually a company will receive a specific type of spare based on their apparatus (i.e. rearmount to rearmount, tower to tower).
Q: What is the difference between all the engine types?
A: There are 5 main engine types in service:
- 2000/500 or 1000/500 - This is the most common, 2000 (or 1000 on older units) gallon per minute pump with a 500 gallon booster tank.
- 1000/500 HP - HP engines can be switched to High Pressure in stages, allowing them to pump at High Pressure. Their main specialty is at High-Rise fires where the High Pressure could pump to High-Rise standpipes with more pressure than normal engines.
- 1000/750 - On Staten Island, some engines have 750 gallon booster tanks. They are found in areas where hydrants may be fewer, such as around areas of brush.
- 2000/500 HP - Engine 8 is the only company with a 3-stage 2000 gallon per minute high pressure pump.
Q: Why are there so many different kinds of ladders in the city?
A: There are 4 main ladder types in service, each with their own benefits and drawbacks:
- 100' Rearmount aerial - The standard FDNY ladder truck. Aerials can carry a variety of equipment and can quickly provide an exterior means of access to a fire building.
- 75' Tower Ladder - Tower Ladders offer a more stable elevated operating platform than aerials, and allow for victim removal from the exterior. However, because of the considerably larger boom they cannot reach heights that aerials could, and the installed ladder rungs should not be used except in emergencies only.
- 95' Tower Ladder - the extra length of the 95' Tower gives it more reach, but also drastically increases the truck's length, making it harder to maneuver on narrower streets and too long for most houses. They are thus limited to areas that truly benefit from having them.
- 100' Tillered Aerial - Tillers are few in the city but where they are assigned they are usually needed. Because the rig is articulated and has rear-wheel drive, it can make tight turns that rearmounts and towers cannot, making them essential for tight areas such as Downtown Brooklyn and the Lower East Side. However, the extra length and weight of the truck means that only certain houses can accommodate them.
Q: What is the ATRV?
A: ATRV 329 is a small 4x4 manifold used by members of E329 for responding to areas of Breezy Point where the streets are too narrow or too sandy for the normal engine.
Q: What is the JFK/LGA Hosewagon?
A: The hosewagons, quartered with the engine companies closest to the city's airports, are just that: wagons that carry hoses. Due to the long stretches associated with runway incidents, a box at the airports requires the response of both a hose wagon and a Satellite company in order to get adequate hose and water/foam on an aircraft fire. The two hosewagons are converted from the old satellites and do not carry pumps.
Q: What company makes the FDNY rig lightbars?
A: FDNY warning lights are predominantly made by Whelen or Federal Signal.
Q: What is the main FDNY siren?
A: Rigs that are 2003 or older models use a customized Federal PA300 with a foot switch that allows it to be operated like a Q siren. 2004 or newer rigs (except for a few engines) predominantly have Federal EQ2B siren. Newer support or chief vehicles use the Federal Smartsiren.
Q: Why do FDNY chauffeurs "play" with the siren when responding instead of leaving it on wail/priority/etc.?
A: Studies have shown that mixing up the siren is more effective at moving traffic than leaving it steady.
Q: Why is the Federal Q Siren "banned"?
A: There are several reasons/theories as to why Federal Q sirens aren't allowed on FDNY rigs, including:
- Power draw of the sirens
- Noise/echo concerns in mostly high-rise environments
- warranty issues
Q: I spotted a rig at The Rock marked [insert unused number]. What's going on?
A: Most likely the rig was recently or is soon to be in a movie or television shoot. Sometimes movies or TV shows like "Rescue Me" that involve the FDNY will use spare or training rigs for shoots.
Q: What are "The Shops"?
A: Located in Long Island City queens, the Shops are the main FDNY Maintenance Facility. Rigs are brought here for routine maintenance as well as all repairs. There are also several lots throughout the city were spare rigs are kept. When a company's rig goes in to the shops for maintenance, they must transfer all their tools and hoses from their regular rig to the spare. There are also several other shop buildings and yards, both in the LIC area and citywide, as well as contractors and dealerships in the tri-state area where work may be carried out.
Q: What are the Emergency Crews?
A: The EC units are basically roving repair vehicles. They respond to the field when an FD rig requires field repairs or fixes at quarters, and belong to the Fleet Maintenance Division. Other Fleet Maintenance vehicles that occasionally get called out to the field include the Tire Truck and the Fuel Truck.
Q: What is Squad 800?
A: Squad 800 is the designation of the "reserve squad company." It operates a 1993 Seagrave 1000/500 engine that has been modified into a heavy rescue engine and is usually kept at either the Rock or on Roosevelt Island. The rig is occasionally used as a spare squad piece.