2009-09-18 / Top Stories

NYFD Sets Record For Response Time

The New York City Fire Department is responding to fires faster than at any other time on record, Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta announced today, crediting new dispatch protocols and improved technology for lowering response time. Also on the decline are fire related deaths. The city has had 44 fire deaths so far this year, fewer than ever before. In 2008, there were 59 fire deaths from January to August; in 2007, there were 64. Fire deaths in the last seven years constitute the lowest ever recorded in city history.

From January to August, firefighters, on average, responded to fire calls in 4:03, the fastest time ever recorded; 13 seconds faster than the same period in 2008, and 26 seconds faster than 2007.

"These record-setting response times are a tremendous accomplishment for the FDNY that has been achieved through hard work from our members and innovation in the way we dispatch our fire companies," said Scoppetta. "Anyone who's ever lived through a fire knows seconds can mean lost lives. It's no wonder fewer people have died from fires this year than ever before."

Under a new dispatch program that began in June 2008, dispatchers immediately assign fire units to an emergency as soon as they obtain and confirm the location and nature of an incident from the caller. Previously they gathered additional details before dispatching units. Further enhancements to the city's 911 system were implemented when the Unified Call Taker (UCT) process became operational in May.

Response to non-structural fires, such as car and brush fires, also reached an historic low, averaging 4:24 this year as compared to 4:44 in the same time period last year, and 4:56 in 2007.

There are also fewer fires in New York City. As of August 31, there were 17,176 structural fires in the five boroughs. Comparatively, there were 17,725 fires in the first eight months of last year and 18,604 during the same period in 2007. That represents a 3 percent drop since August 2008 and an 8 percent drop since August 2007.

Commissioner Scoppetta credited the hard work of FDNY's Fire Safety Education Unit, in large part, for the reduction. "Last year, our critical fire safety message reached 660,000 New Yorkers and this year we expect to reach just as many, if not more," he said. "Working with the FDNY Foundation, so far this year we have distributed more than 100,000 batteries and more than 30,000 smoke alarms. And we're not done yet."

The Fire Safety Education Unit gives presentations throughout all five boroughs, including at churches, schools and community centers. Members also distribute fire safety information in neighborhoods that have experienced a fatal fire. This literature is available in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Urdu, Arabic, Russian, Yiddish and Italian.

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