City to Probe Call System in Fatal Blaze

NY Daily News - November 10, 2009

by Frank Lombardi

Lawmaker scrutiny of a new fire dispatching system has taken on new urgency after a 911 operator sent fire trucks to the wrong address in a fatal blaze that took three lives.

The weekend fire in Woodside, Queens - in a home that officials said was illegally divided up - has been added to the agenda of a Nov. 23 hearing.

Previously, fire calls were transferred by 911 operators to Fire Department dispatchers, who then decided what responses to make. The revamped system lets 911 operators dispatch fire responders.

In the fatal fire, the nearest FDNY unit was delayed because 911 transmitted a mistyped 62nd St. address instead of 65th St.

In a similar error in October on City Island, the Bronx, a responding unit was sent a mile away from the site of a fire. No one was seriously hurt in that incident.

"We have concerns, and are going to move quickly to get to the bottom of it and to get the answers that our members and New Yorkers, and certainly the people of Woodside and City Island, deserve," City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) said.