Say Fatal Bronx Fire Also Featured Snafu By Dispatch System

Chief Leader - December 07, 2010

by FLORA FAIR

Fire union officials say that the response to a fatal blaze in The Bronx on Nov. 27 was botched by the Unified Call Taker system. The fire resulted in the death of one tenant and injury to seven others, including a woman who broke both legs jumping out of the building.

Fire Department officials identified the victim as Juan Marte, 46. He was found trapped in the stairwell of the building on E. 169th St.

But according to union officials, this is not where Firefighters were originally sent. They said Firefighters were told to go to a private residence at a different address. "We got there faster than we get to most fires," FDNY spokesman Frank Dwyer said, estimating the time from the 911 call until a fire engine arrived at about 5 minutes.

Union officials agree that they arrived in a timely manner, but they're calling it luck. Officials say Ladder 44 happened to be going down 169th St. as it headed toward the wrong address, when Firefighters saw the fire and people on the street waving them over. They then directed other units to the correct location, union officials said.

The Uniformed Firefighters and Uniformed Fire Officers associations are calling this another example of UCT error. "Once more the UCT system misdirected Firefighters while civilians were trapped alive," UFA President Steve Cassidy said. But the FDNY says there was no UCT issue at the fire.