FDNY response times plummet in Queens – QNS.com

FDNY response times plummet in Queens

After the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) implemented a system aimed at reducing response times in Queens, data for the last three months confirm response times are plummeting, but some local leaders believe more must occur.
In February of 2008, the FDNY started a pilot program in which they sent emergency personnel to the scene immediately after the dispatcher received the call - a difference in policy when the department waited to send units until they confirmed the location and emergency.
If additional information or a different address becomes available while the responding unit is en route, the dispatcher will notify the responders of the change by radio.
During the first three months the pilot program has been in effect, average response times to structural fires in Queens decreased by 23 seconds from 4:57 in 2007 to 4:34 in 2008. In addition, response times to medical emergencies decreased by seven seconds from 4:46 in 2008 to 4:39 in 2007.
“This simple change of protocol has resulted in the one of the most significant drops in response times in FDNY history,” Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said recently. “During the last 10 weeks, Queens firefighters responded to 1,000 structural fires 30 seconds faster on average than they did a year ago. The hard work of our firefighters, fire officers and dispatchers has made this program a true success.”
The success of the Queens pilot program has led the city to extend the program to the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island beginning on June 1.
However, City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who is the Chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee, said he is not completely sold on the new system and does not believe it should substitute for adding more resources to the borough.
“We are comparing apples and oranges,” Vallone said. “It would be nice to know how we would fare with our updated system with all the resources possible. Unfortunately, that comparison is now impossible.”
In addition, members of the Uninformed Firefighters Association (UFA) expressed some apprehension about the lack of information it may give to firefighters before they arrive at the emergency.
Last year, FDNY response times to structural fires averaged 4:58 while medical emergencies averaged 4:42 - by far the highest of the five boroughs - with the citywide average at 4:27 and 4:20, respectively.
“Thirty seconds could very well mean the difference between life and death,” Vallone said.
During a recent executive budget hearing, Vallone hammered Scoppetta with questions about why Queens has continued to lag behind the rest of the city in response times, a trend that Vallone said has been ongoing for the past 15 years.
“Once again, Queens seems to be getting the short end of the fire hose,” Vallone said. “There’s no reason why one borough should be so behind the others. We need to do better to protect the people of Queens.”
Meanwhile, City Councilmember Leroy Comrie, who was a strong critic of the new response system when it first went into effect, said that Queens has grown faster than any other borough in the last two censuses and with the major developments across the borough coming soon, more fire houses are necessary.
“We need at least two more fire stations and [probably] closer to four to meet the increased density in the borough,” Comrie said.

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