FDNY's Response 14 Seconds Slower


Updated: 02-10-2006 11:04:40 AM


By TOM TOPOUSIS
Courtesy of New York Post
http://www.nypost.com/


February 10, 2006 -- FDNY'S TIME SLOWS BY 14 TICKS City firefighters took 14 seconds longer to get to burning buildings and the number of civilians who died in fires jumped dramatically this year, Mayor Bloomberg's report card on city services found. The report card, released yesterday, carried mostly good news, including a 4 percent drop in major felony crimes and a 22-year record-low in murders, with 540 homicides reported in all of 2005.

But fire response time showed a glaring increase that department officials said they have already begun to reverse. Only Staten Island saw improved Fire Department response times, which were five seconds better than last year.

"Over the last three months, we've seen a decrease in response time every month," said Fire Department spokesman Farrell Sklerov. He said response times have dipped a few seconds each month since November.

Fire response times have been a sore point between the mayor and the city's firefighting unions, with firefighters blaming the slowdown on the closing of a handful of firehouses around the city.

The Fire Department has denied the claims and insists that response times are improving with better dispatching and management of resources.

The preliminary Mayor's Management Report compares the first four months of the fiscal year, beginning July 1, with the same four-month period last year.

During the first four months of this year, 22 civilians died in fires, compared with 14 the previous year.

But Sklerov said the spike comes amid some of the lowest fire fatality rates since records were first kept in 1916.

While overall felony crimes dropped, the Police Department reported a 3 percent increase in robberies because of "youth on youth" robberies of electronic devices, the report card showed.

And cops shaved six seconds off response times to reports of crimes in progress, taking an average of 7 minutes and 30 seconds to get to the scene.

Meanwhile, caseworkers took longer to respond to child-abuse reports, managing to respond within 24 hours 93.9 percent of the time compared with 98 percent for the first quarter of last year.

In the wake of the death of Nixzmary Brown, the Administration for Children's Services is racing to hire additional caseworkers to keep up with the rising number of reports of child abuse.

Elsewhere in the report card, city officials reported that most services held steady or showed improvement.

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