Fewer New Yorkers Are Dying in Fires Than Ever

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UNITED STATES - AUGUST 27:  Firefighters stand in the rain at the scene of a fire at the corner of Walton and E. Mount Eden Aves. in the Bronx, where five firefighters were trapped in the basement when the roof of a building collapsed. The inferno, which began at the Mega 99 Cent store around 12:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon, killed probationary Firefighter Michael Reilly, 25, and critically injured Lt. Howard Carpluk, a twice-decorated 20-year FDNY vet, after a huge air conditioning unit plunged through a burning roof and through the ground floor.  (Photo by Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Photo: New York Daily News Archive/2006/Daily News, L.P. (New York)

Not only did New York record its lowest-ever homicide rate in 2012, it also saw the fewest fire deaths since record-keeping started in 1916, the Fire Department of New York reported on Wednesday. Fifty-eight people died in fires, compared to 62 in 2010, the next-lowest year on record. That's not as steep a drop as that of the murder rate, but it represents a steady decline, and as The New York Times points out, "the fatalities represent a sharp decrease from the 1980s, when it was routine for more than 200 people to die in fires each year." Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano credited department efforts to educate children and hand out smoke detectors. He also pointed to faster response times. Per the Daily News: "The FDNY also reported that ambulances responding to life-threatening medical emergencies set a new record with an average of six minutes and 30 seconds — beating the previous low in 2011 by one second." The Times' coverage of the milestone, however, included this disturbing detail: "firefighters continue to be killed or wounded inside burning buildings where no civilians are killed, or, in some cases, even present." That's a stat we'd also like to see change.