On Tuesday, January 5th, FDNY Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro announced the city had 63 civilian fire deaths in 2020, 5% fewer deaths than in 2019, when 66 people lost their lives in fires. This marks the fifteenth consecutive year there have been fewer than 100 fire-related deaths, continuing an unprecedented period in New York City history.
The FDNY Foundation, the official not-for-profit of the FDNY that funds the department’s fire safety education programs, reemphasizes Commissioner Nigro’s report on the decrease in the number of fire deaths in New York City for 2020.
“While 2020 was filled with tremendous pain for our Department, with 12 of our members lost to COVID-19, this year also demonstrated once more the unwavering bravery and tremendous resilience of the FDNY,” said Commissioner Nigro. “Our EMTs and Paramedics faced the busiest period in EMS history during the height of the pandemic, responding day and night to thousands upon thousands of calls for help, with the utmost professionalism and care for their patients. Our Firefighters raced into burning buildings as they have for 155 years and continued to reduce the number of lives lost to fire. The life-saving efforts of all our members during this horrific year – especially as so many of our members themselves battled COVID-19 – are truly remarkable.”
CIVILIAN FIRE DEATHS
The 63 fire deaths in 2020 represents a 5% decline from 2019, when there were 66 deaths, and continues a trend over the last 15 years with fewer than 100 deaths annually in the city. The deadliest year in New York City for fires was 1970, when 310 people died in fires.
FIRE FATALITIES IN THE LAST DECADE
2020 – 63
2019 – 66
2018 – 88
2017 – 73
2016 – 48
2015 – 59
2014 – 71
2013 – 67
2012 – 58
2011 – 66
2010 – 62
The top causes of last year’s fire deaths, as determined by Fire Marshals, are as follows:
Electrical – 28
Smoking – 12
Incendiary – 6
Cooking – 4
COVID-19 PANDEMIC LEADS TO BUSIEST PERIOD OF MEDICAL EMERGENCIES IN DEPARTMENT HISTORY; MEDICAL EMERGENCIES DOWN OVERALL IN 2020
FDNY EMS responded to 1,412,690 medical emergencies in 2020, down 8% from 2019 when the Department responded to 1,531,870 medical emergencies – the most ever recorded in a single year.
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 530,354 Segment 1-3 calls in 2020, and 882,336 Segment 4-8 incidents.
At the height of the pandemic in March and April, EMS responded to the most medical emergencies on a daily basis in New York City history. Call volume increased by thousands, with the highest total ever coming on March 30 when there were 6,527 medical emergencies.
FIRE AND LIFE SAFETY EDUCATION OUTREACH
In recent years, the FDNY Fire Safety Education Unit (FSEU) coordinated or participated in more than 7,000 events per year, reaching more than 500,000 New Yorkers annually. COVID-19 led to the cancellation of the majority in-person fire safety education events in 2020. Despite cancellations, FSEU continued to respond to effected neighborhoods after fatal fires to provide fire safety education and smoke alarms to residents.
To continue fire safety education in 2020, FDNY – in partnership with the FDNY Foundation – turned to remote learning. The Department launched www.fdnysmart.org/connect to provide New Yorkers with educational content, including public service announcements (PSAs), interactive videos, podcasts, and virtual tours of firehouses and EMS Stations; all designed to provide a means for New Yorkers, especially children, to learn ways to protect their homes and families from fires. PSAs included messages regarding smoke alarms, escape plans for fires at home, cooking safety, and holiday themed education. Educational content was disseminated on the Department’s social media platforms to more than 1.2 million followers, with a total reach of more than 149 million.