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Press Releases / 2011 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: APRIL 5, 2011


New program reduced accidents 32 percent in Queens, improving safety for firefighters and the public

Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano today announced the expansion of the Department’s “Modified Response” program into Brooklyn and Staten Island, effective this week, following a successful pilot program in Queens that reduced accidents involving FDNY apparatus by 32 percent.  Under Modified Response, firefighters refrain from using lights and sirens while responding to certain non-fire and non-life threatening emergencies.  Those account for nearly 300,000 of the one million responses FDNY apparatus make each year, effectively cutting lights and sirens calls by 30 percent.  The new protocol will not be used for calls reporting a fire or any other life-threatening emergency.

Modified Response, which began its pilot in Queens Oct. 4, is designed to increase safety for firefighters and civilians by reducing the number of accidents.  The number of non-fire and non-life threatening emergency calls fire units receive has, in fact, nearly doubled over the past 20 years.

“Firefighters who work in Brooklyn and Staten Island, along with the three million people who reside in those boroughs, will soon benefit from our expansion of this new protocol into their communities,” Commissioner Cassano said. “With accidents down 32% since we began this pilot program six months ago, fewer firefighters and civilians have been injured as a result, even though we’re responding to more non-emergency calls than ever before.”

Currently, calls for water leaks, downed trees, and pulled alarm boxes in the overnight hours with no secondary source of information currently receive a single unit response in emergency mode.  Under Modified Response, such calls in Brooklyn and Staten Island will still receive a single unit response, but, as in Queens, that unit will now respond at a reduced speed and obey all traffic regulations, without the use of lights and sirens.

Calls for odors other than smoke (such as gas or fumes), sprinkler and automatic alarms, electrical emergencies, manhole emergencies and other fire alarm systems currently bring up to five units (three Engine companies and two Ladder companies) in emergency mode.  Under Modified Response, those calls in Brooklyn and Staten Island, as in Queens, will still receive up to five units, but only the first-due units (one Engine and one Ladder) will respond in emergency mode.  The additional units will respond at a reduced speed and obey all traffic regulations, without the use of lights and sirens.  Upon arrival, the fire officers from the first due units will evaluate the incident and determine whether the additional units are needed or if they should return to quarters.

At any time, a fire officer responding to one of the above-mentioned call types can instruct all units to immediately respond in emergency mode based on additional information from dispatchers or by the officer’s evaluation on scene. 

In addition to increasing public safety and firefighter safety, Modified Response will improve the coverage FDNY provides by keeping companies closer to their first-due response areas, making them more readily available for priority assignments such as fires or other life-threatening emergencies. Modified Response is also designed to reduce fuel and maintenance costs and decrease noise.

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

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