FDNY Records Lowest Fire Deaths in 100 Years

Fire Department City of New York
On January 9, 2017, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro announced that 48 people died in fires last year - the fewest fire deaths ever recorded in any calendar year dating back to 1916. (Fire Department City of New York photo)

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro today announced that 48 people died in fires last year - the fewest fire deaths ever recorded in any calendar year dating back to 1916. The city also saw a 9 percent decline in serious fires in 2016, the largest annual decrease since 2008.

The Mayor and Fire Commissioner also announced that response times to fires and life-threatening medical emergencies also improved last year – dropping 5 seconds for fires and 21 seconds for medical calls.

The Mayor and Commissioner also announced early completion of the nation’s largest smoke alarm giveaway/installation program – GetAlarmedNYC – with more than 100,000 combination smoke/carbon monoxide detectors distributed in 2016 to tens of thousands of New Yorkers. The $4 million citywide program was announced in October of 2015, and projected to take two years to complete but has reached and exceeded its goal with more than 113,000 alarms distributed as of last month. Along with partners from the City Council, the FDNY Foundation, the American Red Cross and device manufacturer Kidde, the program targeted communities most at risk for fires and fire-related injuries and deaths.

“Never has our city been as safe from the ravages of fire as we are today, thanks to the heroic work of our firefighters and all FDNY personnel,” said Mayor de Blasio. “This record-breaking, historic achievement is the result of true teamwork by our fire and EMS first responders, fire marshals and dispatchers, as well as inspectors and fire safety educators who helped reduce serious fires by 9 percent this year. Together, these hard working FDNY members have made a tremendous impact on our city and ushered in a new era for fire safety for all New Yorkers.”

“We pushed ourselves to save even more lives in 2016 – embarking on a life-saving citywide smoke alarm program that has reached tens of thousands of homes – and we’ve seen the outstanding results with a historic 100-year low for fire fatalities in our city,” said Commissioner Nigro. “I’m very proud of all our fire and EMS members who worked hard this year to achieve this historic milestone, and – as we enter a new year – we commit again to doing all we can to protect, serve and educate New Yorkers to keep them safe from fire.”

"New York City’s Bravest provide lifesaving services to New Yorkers and this record decline in fire deaths and serious fires is a testament to the dedicated, around the clock work of all of our firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, dispatchers, and fire inspectors,”  said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “From conducting critical outreach to prevent fires, to quickly responding to emergencies and partnering with the City Council on the nation’s largest smoke alarm giveaway and installation program, I commend Commissioner Nigro and the FDNY for their heroic work to keep New Yorkers safe.”

“I applaud New York’s Bravest for a superlative year of saving lives and preventing fires across the five boroughs. I am particularly pleased to see the success of GetAlarmedNYC, a great fire safety initiative that I proudly supported throughout Brooklyn. Working together, we are making this borough a safer place to raise healthy children and families," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.

"All of us owe thanks to the men and women of the FDNY for effectively reducing the tragedies caused by serious fires in the city,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “I hosted successful smoke/CO detector giveaways in my district during the past year and also awarded a citation to a well-trained veteran of the FDNY from my district who memorably saved a life with a heroic rope rescue during an Upper East Side fire in October. It was a great year for the FDNY, indeed."

“The decrease in serious fires and fire-related deaths in the City is a testament to the effectiveness of our outreach and educational programs like GetAlarmedNYC," said Council Member Chaim M. Deutsch. "I’m proud to have been a proponent of GetAlarmedNYC in the Council, working with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to ensure that we allocated $1 million towards the initiative. In total, $4 million and contributions from the NY Red Cross and Kidde meant that we were able to distribute more than 100,000 alarms throughout the five boroughs. In my district alone, we outfitted thousands of homes with free smoke/CO alarms, educated residents about the importance of developing a fire plan with their family, taught parents and grandparents CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver, and did countless outreach events distributing materials to children and adults to increase their fire safety awareness. I am grateful to Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, the Red Cross, Kidde, and my colleagues in government for their partnership in achieving what we set out to accomplish with Get Alarmed NYC. Most of all, I applaud the dedication and bravery of the men and women of the FDNY, and I thank them for the incredible work they do every day.”

 “I commend Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro and the men and women of the FDNY for the tremendous accomplishments announced today,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson. “Thanks to quicker emergency response times and a focus on fire education and prevention, New Yorkers are safer than they have been in over a century. I thank Mayor de Blasio and the Administration for supporting the FDNY and our ongoing efforts to improve the safety of all New Yorkers.”

"I'd like to thank Mayor de Blasio and FDNY Commissioner Nigro for their dedication to fire safety and the reduction of response times, particularly the drop of 21 seconds for emergency medical calls," said Council Member Donovan Richards. "In life-threatening situations, every second counts and could be the difference in a tragedy or a miracle. I'd also like to acknowledge GetAlarmedNYC, which ensured that more than 100,000 New Yorkers have brand new smoke and carbon monoxide detectors protecting their families when they go to sleep at night."


The 48 fire deaths in 2016 represented a 19 percent decline from 2015, when there were 59 deaths, continuing a trend over the last decade with fewer than 100 deaths annually in the city. The deadliest year in New York City for fires was 1970, when 310 people died.

The causes of last year’s fire deaths, as determined by Fire Marshals, are as follows:

Electrical                     14        (power strips and/or extension cords accounted for fires in 9 deaths)

Smoking                     12

Cooking                      11       

Incendiary                    3

Open flame                  2

Incense                        2

Liquid/gas ignition         2

Hot object                     1

Under investigation        1


There were 2,313 serious fires in 2016 compared to 2015, when there were 2,545 (232 fewer for a decline of 9.1 percent). Serious fires escalate to the point of requiring a full one-alarm assignment or higher (i.e., multiple alarm), consisting of a dozen fire units to respond, conduct search/rescue operations and extinguish the fire.

There were 26,491 structural fires in 2016 – down 3.3 percent from 2015 when there were 27,403. Structural fires occur in buildings of all types and involve an incipient fire, without escalation to a serious fire, as described above.

Fire units responded to 18 percent fewer non-structural fires in 2016 compared to 2015 (14,734 in 2016 versus 18,073 in 2015) – or 3,339 fewer fires.


FDNY EMS responded to a new record high number of medical emergencies in 2016 - 1,440,268 – up slightly from 2015 when they answered 1,435,315 calls, or a 0.3% increase.

EMS responses fall into one of two broad categories – Segment 1-3 which include life-threatening emergencies such as cardiac arrest, unconscious and choking calls, and Segment 4-8 incidents which are triaged as non-life-threatening incidents.

FDNY EMS responded to 562,382 Segment 1-3 calls in 2016 - down from 566,210 incidents in 2015, a less than 1 percent decline.

EMS responded to 877,886 Segment 4-8 incidents, up from 869,105 in 2015, a 1 percent increase.


End-to-end Fire unit response times were 5 seconds faster on average to structural fires that are reported through the 911 system in 2016 than in 2015 (4:52 versus 4:57).

End-to-end EMS response times were 21 seconds faster on average to Segment 1-3 calls (8:59 in 2016 versus 9:20 in 2015).

End-to-end combined response times to Segment 1-3 medical emergencies (where either a fire unit or EMS ambulance responded) improved 18 seconds (8:08 in 2016 versus 8:26 in 2015).

For photos of the announcement, click here.


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