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Mayor de Blasio and Fire Commissioner Nigro Announce 17 Percent Decline in Fire Deaths in 2015

January 8, 2016

Second lowest year ever in city history

FDNY personnel responded to record 1.7 million emergencies in 2015 – up 6.4% compared to 2014

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro today announced a 17 percent decline in fire deaths in 2015 as compared to 2014 – and a new record for most emergency responses with more than 1.7 million calls handled by FDNY personnel last year.

There were 59 fire deaths in 2015 (down from 71 in 2014) – the second fewest since accurate record-keeping began in 1916. The only year with fewer fire-related deaths was 2012 when 58 people died. The city has now recorded an unprecedented 10 straight years with fewer than 100 fire deaths annually. In 2015, the Fire Department also responded to a record number of emergencies – 1,747,345 – up 6.4 percent from the previous record high of 1.64 million emergencies in 2014.

“Despite record demand, our city has never been safer nor better served by our brave and dedicated firefighters, EMT’s and paramedics,” said Mayor de Blasio. “The FDNY is keeping more New Yorkers safe than ever before, and they’re doing it more efficiently and effectively under the leadership of Commissioner Nigro and his entire team. I want to thank the leadership and members of the FDNY for their tireless work during our busiest year ever.”

“The number one way we measure success in the FDNY is in lives saved, and by that measure we just experienced one of the most successful years ever in our 150-year history,” said Fire Commissioner Nigro. “The continued historic reduction of fire-related deaths in our city is a direct result of the dedication and commitment to duty of every Firefighter, Paramedic, EMT, Fire Marshal, Inspector and civilian in the Department.”

Commissioner Nigro said the Department’s community outreach and fire safety education work in 2015 reached more than 740,000 New Yorkers – a 26 percent increase over 2014 – at nearly 3,900 different events held throughout the city during the year. At these community-based presentations, in addition to instructing people about safety in the home, firefighters and EMS personnel distributed more than 20,000 smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and 94,000 batteries for use in smoke/co alarms, and trained more than 20,000 New Yorkers to perform life-saving CPR.


While fire deaths neared 2012’s record low – and, for the first time in recorded history New York City did not have a single death during an entire month (June) – one of the worst tragedies in years occurred on March 21, 2015, in Brooklyn when seven children from the same family, ages 7 to 17, died in a home fire on Bedford Avenue in Midwood. In the aftermath of this tragedy, the FDNY spearheaded a two-year smoke alarm giveaway and installation program in partnership with the Mayor, the City Council, the American Red Cross, the FDNY Foundation and device manufacturer Kidde. The goal of the #GetAlarmedNYC campaign is to distribute and install 100,000 smoke/carbon monoxide alarms free to New Yorkers in at risk communities over the next two years.

In 2015, more than 80 percent of fire deaths occurred in private homes or apartments where there was no working smoke alarm present. Almost half of all fatal fires last year were caused by careless smoking or were accidental electrical fires (wiring problems and improper use of extension cords, appliances and portable heaters).

Fire-related deaths over the last 10 years:

2015    59
2014    71
2013    67
2012    58
2011    66
2010    62
2009    73
2008    86
2007    95
2006    85

The record high number of fire deaths in New York City was 310 in 1970.


Fire unit responses increased in 2015 by more than 12 percent, from 519,798 responses in 2014 to 581,982 in 2015. The most significant increase occurred in medical emergency responses by fire units, which rose by almost 39,000 incidents from 231,122 to 269,951. Structural fires increased 3.2 percent, from 26,531 in 2014 to 27,403 in 2015. Serious fires – which require a full first alarm assignment or greater of fire personnel – increased 1.64 percent from 2,504 to 2,545.

EMS unit responses increased in 2015 by more than 9 percent, from 1,530,647 in 2014 to 1,670,628. Responses to calls categorized as life-threatening (e.g., cardiac arrest, unconscious and choking) rose by 17 percent, to 566,210 – up from 483,391 the previous year.

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