Fire Deaths Rose in NYC Last Year

There were 73 civilian fire deaths in New York City during 2017, which is 25 more than in 2016, when the city recorded the fewest on record. The three leading causes of fatal fires in 2017 were open flames (19), electrical (15), and smoking (11), and in 53 percent of the city's fatal fires in 2017, no working smoke alarm was present.

There were 73 civilian fire deaths in New York City during 2017, which is 25 more than in 2016, when the city recorded only 48, the fewest on record, NYC Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro announced last week. And he said during December 2017 alone, there were 26 deaths – the highest number in any month in decades.

The three leading causes of fatal fires in 2017 were open flames (19), electrical (15), and smoking (11), and in 53 percent of the city's fatal fires in 2017, no working smoke alarm was present.

Serious fires declined by 8 percent in 2017 from a year earlier.

Why the jump in civilian fire deaths? Because three serious fires in 2017 claimed a combined 21 lives:

  • April 23, Queens, with five deaths
  • Dec. 18, Brooklyn, four deaths
  • Dec. 28, the Bronx, a five-alarm fire killed 12 people

"While we have worked very hard in recent years to educate millions of New Yorkers about fire safety, several recent tragedies demonstrate our work is far from over and we must do all we can to reach everyone with vital, life-saving knowledge about how to prevent fires and what to do if you're in a fire situation," Nigro said. "We mourn the loss of every life lost due to fire, and we commit to doing even more to make 2018 a safer year for everyone in our city."

The department delivers Fire Safety Education presentations to more than 750,000 people annually and a citywide initiative distributed and/or installed more than 150,000 smoke/CO alarms in homes and apartments throughout the city last year.

Nigro reported that department ambulance response times for life-threatening medical emergencies improved to 6:44 last year from 6:51 in 2016, and a new record-high demand for FDNY response was set in 2017 with 1,748,618 total emergencies responded to by fire and EMS personnel, up 14,139 from 2016.

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