It was a record-breaking year for New York City’s Bravest, with the fewest number of fire deaths and the fastest emergency response times. There were 58 fire deaths 2012 — a drop of four compared to the previous record of 62 set in 2010.
It’s also the lowest number since comprehensive record-keeping began back in 1916. The FDNY’s Emergency Medical Service also set its fastest average ambulance response time of 6:30 for life threatening medical emergencies, cutting one second off its previous record set last year.
“One of the reasons life expectancy in New York City is three years greater than the average across America is because we’ve had the fewest number of deaths by fire,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who made the announcement Wednesday at an FDNY promotions ceremony at the Training Academy on Randall’s Island.
The FDNY set these records despite the unprecedented demand put on the department by Sandy, which led to 94 storm-related fires.
“We just don’t fight fires anymore,” said FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano. “As everyone saw in Hurricane Sandy, we’re an emergency management department now where we do all different kind of emergencies from scaffolding to confined space.”
Cassano added 44 percent of the FDNY's work is related to medical emergencies.
But not all the news was good. The mayor acknowledged the death of three people after a fatal fire in the Bronx. Commissioner Cassano said the cause of the blaze was still under investigation.
The city also saw a 1 percent increase in the number the total number of structural fires citywide in 2012 compared to 2011. But there was also a decrease in non-structural fires decreased by 10 percent to the fewest number recorded in city history.
Listen above as WNYC's Amy Eddings interviews FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano about the department's 2012 statistics.