Firefighters' Union Questions FDNY Response Time

NY 1 - November 20, 2009

Uniformed Firefighters Association officials say that fire units' delayed arrivals at a fatal apartment fire in Brooklyn yesterday raises questions about the effectiveness of the city's six-month-old dispatching system. Firefighters headed to an apartment fire at 654 Saint Marks Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn yesterday afternoon originally pulled up to the corner of Rogers and Prospect Avenues, because the person who called 911 did not give an exact address for the fire.

The Fire Department says the first units arrived in the area in just over three minutes, and took an extra minute or so to arrive at the scene of the fire.

Sources tell NY1 that FDNY officials are investigating whether burning incense caused the bedroom fire that killed Myrtel Jean, 42, and his two-year-old son Fabrice and one-year-old son Sebastian.

Fire officials are currently trying to piece together a timeline to see when a call for help came in.

While the new dispatch system has 911 operators dispatch firemen, the old system directed 911 straight to the fire units.

"This is just another example of problems with the system," said Vice President Jim Slevin of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. "And if there was no problem, the fire department should release the tapes and we should hear what the caller actually stated. But we're being told by the firefighters that they would have been there quicker had they been sent to the right address."

Jean's apartment had no smoke detectors.

Pots and pans were found in the bedroom, leading to the theory that the father may have lost precious time by trying to put the flames out himself.