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Press Releases / 2008 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MAY 6, 2008


90-day Pilot Program in Queens Has Resulted in Significant Drop in Response Times

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta announced today the citywide expansion of a new dispatch policy designed to reduce response times for all fire units throughout New York City.

The policy change stems from a successful pilot program in Queens that has led to a significant decrease in response times to fires and other emergencies, including life-threatening medical calls. Under the 90-day trial, which began on February 14, dispatchers immediately assign fire units to an emergency as soon as they obtain and confirm the location and nature of an incident from a 911 caller.

As a result, from February 14 to April 26, average response times to structural fires in Queens decreased by 30 seconds when compared to the same period in 2007, and the average response time to all emergencies in the borough dropped by 20 seconds, from 5:16 to 4:56, when compared to 2007. Due to the remarkable success of the pilot program, the policy will be implemented citywide on June 1, shortly after the end of the 90-day trial.

"This simple change of protocol has resulted in the one of the most significant drops in response times in FDNY history,” said Commissioner Scoppetta. “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.”

“As response times decrease, the opportunity to save lives increases,” said Chief of Department Salvatore J. Cassano. “Every second this program saves gives firefighters across the City a better chance to extinguish a fire and protect the public and each other from dangerous conditions.”
Under the pilot program, Queens dispatchers were trained in utilizing the new protocol, which requires them to electronically assign fire units once they ask a 911 caller two basic but critical questions – the location of the emergency and the nature of the emergency – and confirm the caller’s answers to ensure accuracy.

As the units respond, the dispatcher continues to interview the initial caller and subsequent callers for more information, such as a cross-street location and a telephone number, and provides any other necessary details to the responding units via apparatus radio. Previously, additional questions were required before dispatchers could assign units to an emergency.

With the program’s expansion, dispatchers in the other four boroughs are now being trained in the use of the new policy.


Press Contact: Francis X. Gribbon & Tony Sclafani, (FDNY) (718) 999-2056

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