| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Jan 2 Fewer people died in fires in
New York City in 2012 than in any year since modern record
keeping began nearly a century ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg
announced on Wednesday.
There were 58 fire-related deaths last year, compared to 66
in 2011, according to the city's data, which extends back to
Bloomberg said the shrinking figures marked a continual
decline in fire-related deaths in recent decades. There was an
average of 140 fire-related deaths a year in the 1990s, and 278
in the 1970s, according to the city.
"With (a) record low number of murders and shootings and the
fewest fire deaths in our city's history, 2012 was a historic
year for public safety," Bloomberg said in a statement.
Last week, he announced that there were fewer homicides in
the city -- 414 in 2012 -- than at any point since modern crime
records began in 1963.
The fire department's ambulance service also broke a new
record for response times, Bloomberg said. The average response
time to life-threatening medical emergencies was 6:30 minutes in
2012, shaving off a second from the previous record set in 2011,
Response times to structural fires increased slightly to an
average of 4:04 minutes last year, compared to 4:02 or 4:01
minutes for the preceding three years. Bloomberg said this was
due in part to the nearly 100 structural fires caused by
superstorm Sandy in October.
In nearly 80 percent of fatal fires last year, there was no
working fire detector installed at the site, Bloomberg said.
Most of the year's deadly fires were accidents caused by
malfunctioning electrical equipment or cigarettes.
Kat Thomson, the research director for the Uniformed Fire
Officers Association, one of the city's main firefighter unions,
said the statistics announced on Wednesday did not mention
civilian or firefighter injuries, and in failing to do so gave
an "incomplete picture" of the year.
The union also said the fire department did not say whether
it met standards set by the National Fire Protection Association
(NFPA), including the guideline that response times should
exceed four minutes in no more than 10 percent of calls.
"To rely on a single average response time is to paint a
false picture of protection because there's areas of Staten
Island and Queens that have disproportionately high response
times," Thomson said, referring to two of the city's outer
A spokesman for the fire department said it was unable to
provide information on injuries and NFPA guideline compliance,
as the FDNY's final report for 2012 has not yet been released.
One firefighter was killed in the line of duty last year,
the first such death since 2009.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Leslie Gevirtz)