Fire Union blames 911 call system for reported delay at Bronx blaze
The firefighters union is again calling on the city to overhaul the 911 call-taking system, saying it delayed the FDNY from reaching a Bronx blaze yesterday that injured nine Bravest.
Uniformed Firefighters Association president Steve Cassidy said the city's unified call-taking system, or UCT, resulted in a nearly 12-minute delay from the time the call came in to the time crews arrived at the scene on Commonwealth Ave in the Van Nest section of the Bronx.
Cassidy provided the press with a screenshot showing the call was made to 911 at 2:40 a.m. but didn't get to FDNY dispatchers until eight minutes later.
"The reason the fire got out of control is because before we got there it was already out of control," he said.
Two houses burned to the ground as 200 firefighters battled the blaze for nearly two -and-a half hours. Nine firefighters and two civilians suffered minor injuries.The fire is still under investigation, the fire department said.
FDNY and NYPD representatives said the union's data was wrong and it took only four minutes for crews to get to the scene, adding the UCT was crucial in that response time.
When the city implemented the UCT system in 2009, it removed specialized 911 call centers, such as ones that focused on fire and ambulance emergencies, and had general operators to handle all the calls and the send info directly to agencies.
"The Unified Call Taker system saved 12 seconds by allowing critical information to be transmitted to a FDNY dispatcher without the caller having to repeat the same information," Paul Browne, the NYPD's deputy commissioner of public information, said in a statement.
A source with knowledge of the incident said the data the union used was for another call related to the same fire.
Cassidy, however, said the UCT system is flawed and plans to file an injunction to suspend it while the city reconsiders a better system.
He said in the old system, the first call-taker would immediately patch a fire call to a borough-based FDNY operator who would give more precise info to a fire house.
The union president called on Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano to join his cause and go back to the old system to avoid more problems and possible injuries.
"If he believes in firefighter safety he will [join] the UFA and tell the Bloomberg administration to take a step back," Cassidy said.