FDNY Response Times Fastest Yet
The New York City Fire Department has responded to fire calls this year in 4:03, 13 seconds faster than last year and 26 seconds faster than in 2007 during the same period. And the department launched the country's largest fireboat on Sept. 11.
Achieving the fastest response time yet in its history, the Fire Department of New York credits a new dispatch program that was launched in June 2008 and hard work by its educational unit. "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 Fire Commissioner Nicholas 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." As of Sept. 16, 2009, NYC had recorded 44 fire deaths, versus 59 fire deaths in the first eight months of 2008 and 64 fire deaths in the same period of 2007. For the past seven years, the city's fire deaths are a record low.
A new dispatch program begun in June 2008 immediately assigns fire units to an emergency as soon as the location and nature of an incident from the caller is confirmed. Previously, dispatchers obtained more details before dispatching units. Further enhancements in the city's 911 system were implemented when the Unified Call Taker process became operational in May 2009. FDNY also said responses to non-structural fires, such as car and brush fires, have reached a record low, averaging 4:24 so far in 2009 versus 4:44 in the first eight months of last year and 4:56 for the same period in 2007.
Scoppetta thanked FDNY's Fire Safety Education Unit for helping to reduce fires this year. "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." Fire safety literature is available in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Urdu, Arabic, Russian, Yiddish, and Italian.
Separately, the FDNY Marine Division launched its newest fireboat, the 140-foot Three Forty Three, on Sept. 11 at the Eastern Shipbuilding Group shipyard in Panama City, Fla. The ship's name honors all FDNY members who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. This and a second FDNY fireboat are funded largely with $40 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Three Forty Three will be the country's largest fireboat and is expected to arrive in the city in December, and it will replace a 50-year-old fireboat. The new boat has a top speed of 18 knots and can pump 50,000 gallons water per minute.