Retired firefighter Jimmy Boyle was frustrated by the FDNY’s unreliable radios long before 9/11 – but after his brave son died in the terror attacks, his battle turned personal.
Firefighter Michael Boyle was rescuing victims inside the north tower when FDNY brass sounded a call to evacuate. But few of the Bravest heard the orders over the patchwork of failing frequencies.

Inspired by the memory of his 33-year-old son, Jimmy Boyle is bringing his fight for better radio equipment to Congress as a homeland security adviser to New York Rep. Peter King.

“I was yelling for years,” said Boyle, 66, who lives in Westbury, L.I. “The radios didn’t work in 1993. The radios didn’t work in 2001. And guess what? The radios don’t work today. That really gets to me.”

King (R-L.I.) was named chairman of the House homeland security subcommittee on emergency preparedness this month, and has hired Boyle to help him investigate radio flaws and communication troubles that endanger rescuers.

“He has such a strong personal motivation, and he has incredible sources,” King said. “I’m getting a lot of advice and a lot of knowledge about the radios from Jimmy. He really knows this issue inside and out.”

King plans to hold hearings on the radios as soon as this spring, using the city’s problems as a worst-case example of communication failures that hinder cops and firefighters nationwide.

Boyle said he will not stop his campaign until better equipment is made available to firefighters, cops and other first responders.

“It has to be a national effort, but New York should be where they try it out,” said the gregarious 25- year FDNY veteran, who served two terms as the city firefighters union president.

“I’ve spoken with people who were in the north tower, and they never had a sense of urgency that the collapse was imminent,” Boyle said. “My son died there.”

Originally published on February 28, 2005