USE OF THE NYC TRANSIT SUBWAY REPEATER SYSTEM

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1 A.U.C. 207, ADDENDUM 16 August 21, INTRODUCTION New York City Transit Authority (NYCT) has installed repeater radio systems for all underground subway stations and subway tunnels throughout New York City, except Staten Island. When authorized by the Incident Commander, these repeater systems may be used for FDNY operations at subway fires and emergencies (as outlined below). FDNY handie talkies have been programmed to provide two subway repeater channels - channel 14 (Subway 1) and channel 15 (Subway 2). These are 5-watt channels. The repeater systems will also carry the H/Ts internal ID #s and will support the emergency alert feature. 2. PURPOSE The repeater systems were installed to provide the FDNY with clear and reliable communications at subway fires and emergencies. The systems make it possible to communicate between specific points located below grade, and from points below grade to points at street level. Using the repeater system, the Incident Commander at the Command Post at street level near the installed antenna will be able to communicate with members located aboveground at subway entrance/exits, aboveground emergency exit locations, and at underground public platform levels. Members underground on public platforms using the repeater system will also be able to communicate with members at each entrance/exit serving the station. 3. GENERAL 3.1 The subway repeater systems consist of coax cable, repeaters, amplifiers and street antennae. The coax cable is installed in below ground areas to receive and transmit signals to reach points at street locations. The street antennae will relay and transmit from the street to below grade points. There is one street antenna at each station. The antenna is positioned to provide maximum coverage of that station. Therefore, antenna position may vary station to station. 3.2 Completed systems are on 24 hours per day 7 days per week. It is not necessary to request activation. Power backup for the repeater provides a minimum of 4 hours of protection in the event of a power outage. The 4 hours is at continuous repeater operation, therefore the actual protection can be greater than 4 hours. 3.3 The Incident Commander must ensure that a method of communications is in place to cover every member operating at an incident. 1

2 4. OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES 4.1 Units must follow existing SOPs for Subway Operations. For example, establish H/T relay, contact token booth, get token booth phone number, sound powered phones, etc. 4.2 The Incident Commander will: 1. Determine the quality of existing communications. 2. Determine the projected communications needs. 3. Establish the H/T Relay (C O R E - on Channel 1). Extend the relay as needed to ensure the entire perimeter of the incident is protected. 4.3 Once operations are underway and conditions dictate, the Incident Commander (IC) can have the repeater system tested to see if it is functioning. Once confirmed it s functioning, the IC may attempt to use the repeater system as a Command Channel. The IC may direct the appropriate officers to switch to Channel 14 (Primary Subway Repeater Channel) on their HTs. Notes: All FDNY members, other than those designated to switch to the repeater channel, will remain on HT Channel 1. The NYC Transit duplex radio repeater system is always ON. Experience has shown that the Post radio may prove unreliable when communicating to below grade locations. Sound powered phones can be used as an additional communications network at subway incidents. An effective HT relay (Channel 1-Primary Tactical) must be established whether the station is equipped with a repeater or not. Members of the 1st truck and the Officer of the 1st engine shall be utilized when establishing a HT relay. 4.4 If the IC decides to use the repeater system, the following procedures shall be adhered to: 1. Choose the primary H/T subway repeater channel - Channel 14. Channel 15 may be used as a secondary repeater channel if needed at this incident. Example: Channel 14 is used as the Fire Operations Command Channel and Channel 15 could be used to coordinate evacuation efforts. 2. Channel 15 may be used as the primary H/T repeater channel at a second operation in close proximity to the first operation. 3. Test the repeater channel at street level. 2

3 4. Determine which members should switch to the repeater channel. Limit the number of members operating on the repeater channel. The subway repeaters are similar to building repeaters and cannot support multiple messages transmitted at the same time. A member needing to communicate on a repeater channel should wait for quiet air time and then transmit his/her message. Multiple transmissions will be unreadable and will require retransmission. As always, if a transmission is not acknowledged, assume it was unsuccessful. Any member operating on the repeater channel must be teamed with an H/T equipped member operating on H/T channel 1. Teamed members shall remain aware of any communications directed to their team or unit on both channels and respond accordingly. Example: Ladder 1 Officer is on Channel 14 and teamed with Ladder 1 Can Firefighter on Channel 1. If the repeater fails, the IC may try to contact Ladder 1 Officer on Channel 1. Division 1 to Ladder 1. Ladder 1 Can Firefighter must be alert to respond. Minor Operations: such as rubbish on the platform, medical emergencies, etc. The Company Officer shall determine the channel assignments of his/her members. Example: the ECC and the Officer switch to the repeater channel and other members remain on Channel 1. Major Operations: such as fire, train derailments, etc. The IC can use the repeater channel as a secondary command or tactical channel. The IC will determine which Officers / Firefighters, in addition to Chief Officers, will operate on the repeater channel. When the tactical channel (Channel 1) and the repeater channel are to be used, Chiefs will be on the repeater channel and their Aides will monitor the tactical channel (Channel 1). 4.5 On the Post Radio, Channel Subway 1 is for Channel 14 and Subway 2 is for Channel 15. The Post Radio should be used on Channel 2 as a command channel but can be used as a repeater channel, if deemed necessary, by the Incident Commander. Ensure that someone is monitoring the Post Radio at all times. 5. PROCEDURES IF THE REPEATER FAILS 5.1 Repeaters are used to increase the range of our handie talkies. A repeater is a two-way radio system that receives on one frequency, and then re-transmits what it hears on another frequency, at exactly the same time. If the repeater did not use two different frequencies, the repeater would hear itself when it is transmitting. If the repeater fails, H/T communications on FDNY Channel 14 and Channel 15 are not possible. 5.2 Members should be alert to the signs of repeater failure such as unusual periods of radio silence or continued inability to make radio contact on the repeater channel. If it is determined that the repeater is not operational, contact shall be attempted, through the H/T relay (Channel 1), by the accompanying member operating on H/T Channel 1. NOTE: Members may encounter dead spots in the repeater coverage. Prior to abandoning the use of the repeater channel, the team shall return to a safe location where previous communications were successful. If communications are now successful on the repeater channel, report the dead spot to the IC. If communications are unsuccessful, use H/T relay (Channel 1) to report the repeater failure to the IC. 3

4 5.3 Post Radios and UHF Mobile Radios in BC/DC vehicles have been equipped with a reverse frequency feature (AKA - a Talk Around feature). This feature allows these specific radios to broadcast emergency messages to members on the receive frequency and receive messages on the transmit frequency of the H/T repeater channel being used at the time of the failure. The signal strength of the UHF Mobile radio and the Post Radio (up to 45 watts) may penetrate into dead spot areas, but due to the limited wattage of the XTS 3500 H/T (5 watts), members may not be able to respond. A sample emergency message may be - The repeater system has failed. All members switch your H/Ts to Channel 1. On the Post Radio and the UHF Mobile radio, Channel Rev Subway 1 has been added for use if Channel 14 fails, and Channel Rev Subway 2 has been added for use if Channel 15 fails. 5.4 The Incident Commander should continue to monitor the repeater channel in case service is restored and a member tries to make contact. The Incident Commander should conduct a roll call of units on the scene after notifications are made and all members have switched back to Channel PROCEDURES FOR REPORTING PROBLEMS 1. The Fire Department unit experiencing a problem with the NYC Transit repeater system shall notify the Borough Communications Office via Department radio and advise the Dispatcher of the problem, including the exact location or station. 2. The Borough Communications Office shall forward this information, with all of the particulars to FDOC. 3. FDOC will transmit this information to the effected Borough Command during normal business hours, and to the effected Division at all other times, advising of the particulars, and requesting that the Borough Command / Division notify the appropriate units. 4. FDOC will fax a copy of this information to the Public Transportation Safety Unit. 5. The Public Transportation Safety Unit will confer with the effected Borough Command / Division and establish a NYC Transit repeater system outage folder, and monitor the status and the frequency of these outages. 7. The Public Transportation Safety Unit will liaison with NYCT to ensure prompt repair of system and provide periodic updates to FDOC until the system is repaired and is fully operational. 8. FDOC will transmit this information to the effected Borough Communications Office, and the effect Borough Command during normal business hours and to the effected Division at all other times with all of the particulars, and the Borough Command / Division will notify the appropriate units. 4

5 9. The Borough Command / Division shall have the unit that originally reported the problem conduct a re-inspection so as to verify that the repeater system is fully operational. The Borough Command / Division shall advise the Public Transportation Safety Unit of the results of this re-inspection. 5

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