Firefighter union blasts city over delayed emergency response to 5-alarm blaze

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THE BRONX, New York (PIX11) – Another fire in the city and another allegation of a botched 911 system and call leading to a response time delay of nearly 12 minutes.

The Uniformed Firefighters Association held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to provide proof and documentation of a delay they said put their firefighters at risk.  According to Steve Cassidy, President of UFA, 11 of their members were hurt in a Bronx fire Wednesday morning.  The 5-alarm fire only grew with each passing minute, said Cassidy, and placed his 250 responding firefighters in danger.

“These delays are unnecessary and they are completely unacceptable,” said Cassidy.

The new arising issues are not, however, about the city’s new 911 system known as ICAD, which EMS union officials have blamed for delays caused by software glitches.  Instead, UCT or Unified Call Taker is a system used and depended by the city’s firefighters, which was implemented by the city in 2009.  Insiders said several minutes go by before police dispatchers pass pertinent information and even addresses to fire dispatchers.  Stacks of complaints have piled up and numerous examples were cited by union officials.

“At the time we knew it was not working because our members were not getting the correct information about the fire about the location,” said Cassidy.
Just last week, on July 12, a fire at the loading dock at Macy’s in Herald Square saw a dispatching delay of nearly 5 minutes.  On July 13, firefighters were sent an emergency call to the Bronx, when the call was actually for Brooklyn.  And on July 14, a 13 minute delay was seen because a dispatcher sent firefighters and officers to Avenue X in Brooklyn instead they should have been heading to Malcolm X Boulevard.

But perhaps most alarming were the claims about a fatal fire in the Bronx late last week where firefighters said the delay became critical and fatal.

The FDNY insists there were no delays to the call and that the end-to-end response time was 4 minutes and 42 seconds.  They NYPD shared the same views as the FDNY, but also added the Unified Call Taker (UCT) saved 12 seconds when transmitting information. Additionally, said the UFA was referring to incorrect data when pointing at a 12 minute delay.

The UFA President said the organization is pursuing an injunction against the city and headed to court to get the city to stop using the UCT system altogether.