- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Warning that public transit is a “prime target for terrorists,” D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday announced the expansion of a wireless network to the city’s Metrorail tunnels.

Four years ago, D.C. firefighters’ hand-held radios were not working as they tried to rescue trapped subway passengers during a tunnel fire.

City officials said D.C.-area radios now have more reach than those in many other major metropolitan areas.

“From the sarin attacks in Tokyo’s subways in 1995 to the recent tragedy in Madrid, we understand the need for direct communication throughout our city, both above and below ground,” Mr. Williams said yesterday.

Mr. Williams demonstrated the system at a press conference as he contacted fire department cadets at several subway stations. All said they could hear the mayor clearly, and emphasized the need for the network.

The new underground system interfaces with the aboveground wireless network completed in September. City officials said the underground network is being used by D.C. firefighters and emergency medical personnel.

The new system operates at the public safety industry standard level at which speech is understandable with only minor distortion, rarely requiring repetition of messages.

Fire officials have said before the system changes, radios would work in tunnels only if one firefighter was close enough to see another, and the messages would not reach the surface.

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