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Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro speaks at the We Love Whitestone civic meeting on May 17.

The city’s Fire Commissioner stopped by Wednesday’s We Love Whitestone civic meeting this week to talk about changes he’s seen in the department over the years and what residents can do to enhance fire safety for their families.

Daniel Nigro, who lives in Whitestone, has led the FDNY for three years; he discussed the different challenges the Department faces today.

“Our Fire Department today, as compared to the Fire Department that I started in [in 1969], is quite a bit different,” Nigro said. “The challenges have grown exponentially, and I think that the department has grown, very much, to face those challenges.”

Response time in the area has been reduced to six and a half minutes for serious calls, despite the Department seeing a record number of calls last year, Nigro said. Citywide in 2016, the FDNY answered 1.7 million calls and had the lowest number of fire deaths — 48 — in recorded history.

“It was the busiest year in the Department’s history,” the Fire Commissioner said. “There’s quite a growing demand to the services of the Fire Department … medical calls, emergencies, gas leaks, water leaks: you name it, we respond. Nobody provides help better than the city of New York.”

And, in this day and age when terrorism is on the forefront of everyone’s minds, Nigro continued, the Department “has never worked closer” with the NYPD to combat threats to the city.

To help keep families and neighborhoods safe, Nigro reminded attendees how essential it is for homes to have working smoke and CO alarms installed in their homes. At the home in Queens Village which broke out in flames last month, claiming the lives of five young people inside, there were no working smoke alarms, the Fire Commissioner said.

“Nothing is sadder than seeing firefighters carry out children,” Nigro said. “[Smoke alarms] are a simple thing; it’s a cheap thing.”

The Fire Commissioner said the number one cause of fires, for many years, was smoking. While smoking still accounts for a large number of fires, today, the biggest cause are misuse of extension cords and power strips. Nigro encourage residents to use the strips at a minimum and make sure any in use are “UL approved,” which means it’s been safety tested.

“It seems like a simple thing,” Nigro said. “But these are some of the things we can do to help ourselves.”

Learn more about fire and life safety by visiting the FDNY website.

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