Fire Union and FDNY Fight Over 911 System - November 20, 2009

MYFOXNY.COM - Firefighters called to a deadly blaze in Brooklyn on Wednesday were sent to the wrong address, raising concerns about the new 911 dispatch system. Fire union officials say the new system is problematic. But the fire department says firefighters got to the fire in just over 3 minutes despite 911 callers giving an incorrect address.

Two callers to 911 did not provide the exact address of the apartment on fire leaving firefighters to find it once they arrived.

Fire Department officials fired back.

"As the department stated yesterday, both callers were unable to provide a specific address for the fire building and gave 911 operators the corner location of Rogers Avenue and Prospect Place -- where fire units were dispatched and responded in 3 minutes and 9 seconds," the FDNY said in a statement. "The tapes prove conclusively that the statements by the Uniformed Firefighters Association falsely claiming new dispatch procedures delayed the response were misleading and were the latest in a series of inaccurate statements by the union. Response time since Unified Call Talking began is down approximately 20 seconds."

Steve Cassidy, the UFA president, shot back with another statement:

"It is noteworthy that the city released only two 9-11 calls related to this significant fatal fire. They failed to include a reported pay phone call from a witness identifying himself as Gordon Burress to NY 1, who claimed 911 operators were asking him irrelevant questions.

"Anyone who listens to the two UCT calls released by the FDNY will notice that the operator references that 'A Call Is Already In.' Why won't the FDNY release the first call?

"The tapes also reveal that the two different operators were clearly not capable of extracting the necessary information to get firefighters to the scene of the emergency.

"As we have said in the past the UCT system does not work and it continues to compromise the safety of firefighters and the general public."

Earlier this month, a typing error caused a delay in response time to a fire in Woodside, Queens, according to the union.