Sept 17, 2009, 11:05 AM
The New York City Fire Department says response time for emergency calls is the fastest it's ever been.
Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta says firefighters have responded to calls in an average of four minutes and three seconds since January, the fastest time on record.
It's 13 seconds faster than the same period last year.
Scoppetta also says the number of fire fatalities is at an all-time low of 44 so far this year.
He credits new dispatch protocols, which send firefighters out the door as soon as a 911 call comes in, even before the nature of the emergency is known, and better technology for the improvements on both fronts.
Still despite the figures, the Uniformed Firefighters Association isn't convinced.
In a statement, Uniformed Fire Officers Association President Captain Al Hagen said, "Response time statistics can be easily manipulated. Fire Department rigs are not responding faster. Improvements have been artificially generated by sending Units out the door with incomplete information, often to the wrong address or with the wrong equipment. That kind of 'improvement' gives a decidedly false sense of security to the citizens of NYC."
The Fire Department says response times have always been based on the arrival of the first unit.
The timing of the Fire Department's announcement is worth noting. It came just minutes before City Comptroller William Thompson received the fire union's endorsement in the mayor's race.