Updated: 01-28-2004 10:13:36 AM

Fatalities On The Rise After FDNY Firehouse Closings


STEPHANIE GASKELL
Courtesy of New York Post

January 28, 2004 -- Nearly eight months after six fire companies were shut down, fire fatalities have risen and response times are up in every borough, according to a new report.

FDNY officials said the August blackout - not firehouse closings - are to blame for higher response times. But union leaders aren't buying that.

"There are always tragedies throughout the year, but never before did they say this is the cause of higher response times," said Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. "It's a red herring. It has no bearing on it whatsoever."

There were 29 fire deaths from July 1 to Oct. 31, 2003, compared to 18 deaths during that same period in 2002, according to the preliminary Mayor's Management Report.

"There's a saying, slash and burn. Well, they slashed and now they're getting burned," Cassidy said.

But FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon said the areas where the six firehouses were shuttered are still safe.

Response times went up by 11 seconds across the city - from 4 minutes and 14 seconds to 4 minutes and 25 seconds.

But the day of the blackout, the citywide response rate jumped to 7 minutes and 33 seconds. The day after it was 6 minutes and 4 seconds.

"So the spike for those two days has skewed those numbers," Gribbon said.

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