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Buffalo firefighters experience radio trouble

Posted at 6:24 PM, Jul 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-12 18:24:39-04

Buffalo firefighters appeared calm tackling a two-alarm fire on East Lovejoy Street early Tuesday morning.

Firefighter: Dispatch, do you copy that for me?

Dispatch: Negative, 4-3. We do not copy. We believe it's Engine 3. We did not copy the message, though.

But radio communication obtained by 7 Eyewitness News shows the fire wasn't the only problem they were dealing with.

Dispatch: I can't. I'm having a hard time reading you with this radio problem. You're coming out of the attic. Is that correct?

The radio system, their lifeline in an emergency situation, wasn't working properly.

Dispatch: Buffalo fire, this is command. Are you experiencing this across all three channels? Firefighter: Negative command, only channel two. 

Fire officials said a portable radio interfered with the rest of the entire system.  So, the chief advised everyone to switch channels immediately.

Chief: I'm going to switch over to channel three. I want everybody to go to channel three. Make sure you move over to three, ok?

Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield said his technicians are still investigating what happened. “That communication was interrupted by something. We don't know what that was. We believe it may have been a particular radio that had an issue.”

Five firefighters were checked out for minor burns, heat exhaustion, and a shoulder injury. But, Whitfield said the radio problems aren't to blame. “These are things that are inherent in every fire we go to. So, there was no communication issue in terms of that.”

The radio has been taken out of circulation while technicians investigate what happened. 

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.