CALL IT FDNYPD

NY Post - October 12, 2006

by DAVID SEIFMAN and STEPHANIE GASKELL

Massive, quick and coordinated - with the FDNY and the NYPD equally sharing control at the scene under new rules put into place after Sept. 11, 2001.

That's how Mayor Bloomberg and uniformed-services union leaders described the city's response to the plane crash on the Upper East Side.

"It went perfectly according to plan," Bloomberg declared during a press conference a few hours after the crash.

"Two proud agencies with great traditions and equipment and training working side by side. That's what the public has a right to expect and that's exactly what these agencies do."

That wasn't the case on 9/11 when the NYPD and FDNY failed to communicate well and work effectively together, something many observers believe likely contributed to the loss of lives.

In 2004, the city issued new protocols - called the Citywide Incident Management System - that sets forth which city agency would be in charge during certain events, such as terror attacks, natural disasters and other emergencies.

Those rules were put into effect during yesterday's response to the crash, which was classified as an "aviation incident."

In that circumstance, both the FDNY and the NYPD share control equally under what is called a joint, or unified, command.

"This is an aviation disaster and in those cases you have a unified command under CIMS and that's what happened," Bloomberg said.

"You saw a police officer, a senior officer, at the site with a senior fire officer at the Police Department site - and those were next to each other and they were working together for the entire time."

Even if an "aviation incident" is determined to be terror-related, the agencies would share control under the new rules. In cases of a chemical, biological or other hazardous-materials attack that is criminal or terror-related, the NYPD takes charge and leads the response.

Not every first responder yesterday at the luxury building on the Upper East Side understood that the agencies were sharing command.

When asked who was in charge, two NYPD Emergency Service Unit officers on the scene told The Post - incorrectly - that the Fire Department was in charge until the fire was put out.

Another firefighter told The Post that he thought the NYPD was running the show.

But Bloomberg said no matter what first responders thought or said, both agencies worked well together.

"Everybody was able to get their equipment through traffic here. The response time was very fast and they were all able to get their equipment into place," Bloomberg said.

"The Fire Department got lines pretty quickly up on the two floors to knock down the fire. The Police Department had control of the whole area. Together they went to every apartment and knocked on the door and helped anybody out."

Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said the FDNY and NYPD cooperated.

"I didn't see any issues. I didn't see any confrontations," Cassidy said last night on NY1.

Meanwhile, two firefighters on the scene said that cellphone service was shut down in the area because it was interfering with their radios.

But Bloomberg denied their claim. When asked if there were any problems with communications, Bloomberg replied, "None whatsoever."

"Keep in mind, they were all basically standing next to each other so this was not a problem of using radios," he said. "In cases like this you always have lots of conflicting things."

A call to Verizon was not returned.