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Union Claims FDNY Is Underreporting Response Times To Close More Fire Houses

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The firefighters union is accusing FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano of deliberately underreporting the time it takes for fire trucks to arrive at an emergency.

Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy said response times to emergencies are a full minute more than what the Fire Department claims.

"A minute can be the difference between life and death," Cassidy said. "The city has an obligation to report what the real response time is."

Cassidy said the response times are being manipulated so the city can close 20 fire houses.

Union Claims FDNY Is Underreporting Response Times To Close More Fire Houses

"You can lower your response times if you don't count the time a 911 caller spends with a 911 operator," Cassidy said.

Cassano agreed and said the Department doesn't have the technology to count and include that time anyway. Currently, the Department considers response time from when the Fire Department is notified until it arrives at the scene, Cassano said.

Cassidy claims the FDNY has the data but refuses to report it because it would increase response times by a minute.

Cassano released the following statement Wednesday:

"I have always strongly supported reporting complete and accurate response time information, and the Department has always been thoroughly transparent about how it calculates response times.

"Thanks to the city's investment in new 911 technology, we will soon be able to report total 'end to end' response time data.  'End to end' means from the time a caller's phone 'rings' into the 911 system until the first FDNY unit arrives on the scene of an emergency.

"Fire response times have never been faster, and last year the city experienced the fewest fire deaths on record (58) and a 27 percent decrease in second-alarm fires.  That's a testament to the fact we're getting to fires faster, controlling them more quickly and preventing them from escalating further, which is a large part of how we're able to save more lives than ever before."

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