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FDNY Response Time Down, Calls Up

NEW YORK — The Fire Department’s average response time decreased last year for the second consecutive year even as the number calls increased slightly, the fire commissioner announced yesterday.

The citywide average response time for all incidents was 4 minutes and 49 seconds in 2007, a decrease from 4 minutes and 54 seconds in 2006, Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said.

In 2005, the average response time was 5 minutes and 9 seconds, he said.

Although the city has not released a borough-by-borough breakdown, Staten Island shows a similar decrease in responses to structural fires, based on the month-by-month numbers through November.

In 2006, the average response to a structural fire was 4 minutes and 54 seconds — up from 4 minutes in 49 in 2005.

That response time appears to have dropped to 4 minutes and 44 seconds in 2007, though the December statistics, which have not yet been released, could skew that average.

The city’s firefighters responded to a total of 490,767 calls in 2007, a slight increase from 484,954 in 2006, or roughly 1.2 percent, Scoppetta said.

For non-medical emergencies, firefighters responded to 209,943 calls, the most in the department’s history, Scoppetta said.

The department’s Emergency Medical Service received a record number of calls — nearly 1.2 million — in 2007, a two percent increase from 2006.

“Our members should be commended for their hard work and dedication throughout the year,” Scoppetta said in a statement.

“This past year has proven that when it comes to handling emergencies, the FDNY does it better and faster than any other department in the world.”

Last year 96 people died in fires, the department said. That figure includes the nine children and a woman who died in a fire in March in the Bronx.

Figures for fire-related civilian deaths for the previous year were not immediately available.

The Fire Department didn’t release figures for firefighters killed battling blazes. Last August, two firefighters — Robert Beddia, 53, of South Beach, and Joseph Graffagnino, 33, of Brooklyn — were killed in a blaze in the condemned former Deutsche Bank building at Ground Zero.

And already this year, a veteran fire lieutenant, John H. Martinson of Eltingville, died while fighting a fire in a 25-story building in the Ebbets Field Houses complex.

There were 28,004 structural fires last year, a slight increase from 27,817 in 2006. The most in the department’s records — 56,810 — occurred in 1976. — Advance news reporter John Annese contributed to this report.