As Queens grows, so does the number of building fires in 2014

Photo by Riyad Hasan

The number of structural fires in Queens surged last year by 7.7 percent, well above the average increase for the entire city, as firefighters responded to reports of 5,170 burning buildings in the borough in 2014, new statistics compiled by the Uniformed Firefighters Association show.

Citywide, structural fires increased 5.7 percent for a total of 25,097 buildings set ablaze.

Overall, 2014 was the busiest year on record for the FDNY since it began keeping records 150 years ago, the report found.

The sharper rise in fires in Queens was likely due to the faster pace of new development in the borough, said Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

“Queens has been growing in leaps and bounds. And the more people you have, the more likely you will need us,” Cassidy said. “The borough is growing faster than any other borough.”

With the fast pace of new development in Queens, Cassidy said he believes the FDNY needs to provide more firefighting resources to the borough. “We’ll see how the department responds to that,” he said.

Non-structural fires — cars, brush and rubbish — were up 6.48 percent, with 15,512 calls to firefighters for these types of fires in 2014, compared with the prior year.

Overall, the single largest increase in responses by firefighters was for emergencies involving gas, water and steam leaks; elevator rescues; carbon monoxide and fire alarms; and scaffolding and building collapses. Those calls increased 13.85 percent in Queens for a total of 42,630 last year.

“Today, New York City firefighters are trained to deal with a wide range of emergencies. Going back decades, it was fires, fires, fires. And now we’re dealing with so many more things than just structural fires,” Cassidy said. “Firefighters are ready to deal with emergencies that are either man-made or natural.”

Queens FDNY emergency responses during 2013 and 2014:

Structural fires up 7.71 percent
2013: 4,800 vs. 2014: 5,170

Non-structural fires up 5.83 percent
2013: 3,363 vs. 2014: 3,559

Emergencies up 13.85 percent
2013: 37,443 vs. 2014: 42,630

Medical emergencies up 3.9 percent
2013: 44,436 vs. 2014: 46,169

False alarms up 6.57 percent
2013: 4,204 vs. 2014: 4,480

Total calls up 8.24 percent