Open Access Articles- Top Results for New York City Fire Department

New York City Fire Department

Fire Department
of the City of New York

"New York's Bravest"
EMS Motto: "New York's Best"[1]
Operational area
Country 23x15px United States
State 23x15px New York
City 23x15px New York City
Agency overview
Established July 31, 1865 (1865-07-31)
(origins go back to 1648)
Annual calls

For 2013:[2]

  • Total: 479,228
  • Structural fires: 25,097
  • Non-fire emergencies: 197,138
  • Medical emergencies: 222,879

15,629 (2013)[2]

  • Uniformed Fire: 10,241
  • Uniformed EMS: 3,621
  • Civilian: 1,767
Staffing Career
Fire chief James E. Leonard
Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro
EMS level CFR-D, BLS & ALS
IAFF 94 & 854
Facilities and equipment
Divisions 10
Battalions 53
Stations 255 (Including 34 EMS Stations and 3 Fireboat Stations)
Engines 198
Trucks 143
Squads 7
Rescues 5
Ambulances 234 (Morning and Evening)
146 (Overnight)
Wildland 10
Fireboats 3
Official website

The New York City Fire Department, officially the Fire Department, City of New York (FDNY), is a department of the government of New York City[3] that provides fire protection, technical rescue, primary response to biological, chemical and radioactive hazards, and emergency medical services to the five boroughs of New York City.

The New York City Fire Department is the largest municipal fire department in the United States and the second largest in the world after the Tokyo Fire Department. The FDNY employs approximately 10,200 uniformed firefighters and over 3,600 uniformed EMTs and paramedics. Its regulations are compiled in title 3 of the New York City Rules. The FDNY's motto is New York’s Bravest. The FDNY serves more than 8 million residents within a 320 square mile radius.[4]

The FDNY headquarters is located at 9 MetroTech Center in Downtown Brooklyn,[5] and the FDNY Fire Academy is located on Randalls Island.[6] There are Three Bureau of Fire Communications alarm offices which receive and dispatch alarms to appropriate units. One office, at 11 Metrotech Center in Brooklyn, houses Manhattan/Citywide, Brooklyn, and Staten Island Fire Communications. The Bronx and Queens offices are in separate buildings, and plans are in the works to consolidate them into a single building to be constructed in the future.[citation needed]


File:September 14 2001 Ground Zero 03.jpg
An FDNY deputy chief during rescue efforts at the World Trade Center following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Like most fire departments of major cities in the United States, the New York City Fire Department is organized in a paramilitary fashion, and in many cases echos the structure of the police department.[7] The department's executive staff is divided into two areas that include a civilian Fire Commissioner who serves as the head of the department and a Chief of Department who serves as the operational leader. The current Fire Commissioner is Daniel A. Nigro, who recently took over the position from Salvatore J. Cassano in June 2014. The executive staff includes several civilian fire commissioners who are responsible for the many different bureaus within the department, along with the Chief of Department, the Chief of Fire Operations, the Chief of EMS, the Chief Fire Marshal, and other staff chiefs. Staff chiefs include the seven citywide tour commanders, the Chief of Safety, the Chief of Fire Prevention, and the Chief of Training.[8]

Operationally and geographically, the department is nominally organized, into five Borough Commands for the five traditional Boroughs of New York City. Within those five Borough Commands exists nine firefighting Divisions, each headed by a Deputy Division Chief. Within each Division are four to seven Battalions, each led by a Battalion Chief. Each Battalion consists of three to eight firehouses and consists of approximately 180–200 firefighters and officers. Each firehouse consists of one to three fire companies. Each fire company is led by a captain, who commands three lieutenants and nine to twenty firefighters. There are currently four shifts of firefighters in each company. Tours can be either night tours (6 p.m. - 9 a.m.) or day tours (9 a.m. - 6 p.m.). In one tour or shift, each company is commanded by a lieutenant or the captain and is made up of three to five firefighters, depending on the type of fire company/unit: an Engine Company is staffed by an officer and three to four firefighters; a Ladder Company is staffed by an officer and five firefighters; a Rescue Company is staffed by an officer and five firefighters; a Squad Company is staffed by an officer and five firefighters; a Marine Company is staffed by an officer and four firefighters; the Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat) Company is staffed by an officer and six firefighters.

The FDNY faces highly multifaceted firefighting challenges in many ways unique to New York. In addition to responding to building types that range from wood-frame single family homes to high-rise structures, there are many secluded bridges and tunnels, as well as large parks and wooded areas that can give rise to brush fires. New York is also home to New York City Subway, one of the largest subway systems in the world.

Volunteer departments

File:Brooklyn fire headquarters.jpg
Former headquarters of the Brooklyn Fire Department, near MetroTech Center; it was designed by architect Frank Freeman and built in 1892.

There are 10 volunteer fire companies left in New York City that respond to calls in their neighborhood in addition to a normal assignment of FDNY units. They are typically in more isolated neighborhoods of the city. By borough, the volunteer companies are:

The Staten Island volunteer companies are dispatched by the Staten Island Communications Office and operate on the FDNY Staten Island frequency. Broad Channel and West Hamilton Beach have teleprinters in parallel with the FDNY fire companies that also serve their area. The Brooklyn and first four volunteer companies in Queens also provide ambulance services. The nine Volunteer Fire Departments are a supplement to the FDNY, however they have proven essential at particular incidents and during certain times. Such as during storms when flooding conditions prevented FDNY Companies from reaching alarms or with a delayed response. Typically the departments respond in addition to the initial assignment dispatched by the FDNY. The volunteer departments are fully trained and operational with the apparatus and equipment they have. Therefore, when they arrive to a scene first or when needed they will implement their operations alongside FDNY as applicable.



The origins of the New York City Fire Department go back to 1648 when the first fire ordinance was adopted in what was then the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam. Peter Stuyvesant, within one year of his arrival, appointed four fire wardens to wooden chimneys of thatched-roofed wooden houses, charging a penalty to owners whose chimneys were improperly swept. The first four fire wardens were Martin Krieger, Thomas Hall, Adrian Wyser, and George Woolsey.[9]

Hooks, ladders and buckets were financed through the collection of fines for dirty chimneys, and a fire watch was established, consisting of eight wardens which were drawn from the male population. An organization known as the prowlers but given the nickname the rattle watch patrolled the streets with buckets, ladders and hooks from nine in the evening until dawn looking for fires. Leather shoe buckets, 250 in all, were manufactured by local Dutch shoemakers in 1658, and these bucket brigades are regarded as the beginning of the New York Fire Department.[10]

In 1664 New Amsterdam became a British settlement and was renamed New York.[11] The first New York fire brigade entered service in 1731 equipped with two hand-drawn pumpers which had been transported from London, England. These two pumpers formed Engine Company 1 and Engine Company 2. These were the first fire engines to be used in the American colonies, and all able-bodied citizens were required to respond to a fire alarm and to participate in the extinguishing under the supervision of the Aldermen.[12]

The city's first firehouse was built in 1736 in front of City Hall on Broad Street. A year later, on December 16, 1737, the colony's General Assembly created the Volunteer Fire Department of the City of New York, appointing 30 men who would remain on call in exchange for exemption from jury and militia duty. The city's first official firemen were required to be "able, discreet, and sober men who shall be known as Firemen of the City of New York, to be ready for service by night and by day and be diligent, industrious and vigilant."[12]

Although the 1737 Act created the basis of the fire department, the actual legal entity was incorporated in the State of New York on March 20, 1798 under the name of "Fire Department, City of New York."


File:New York City Fire Department Battalion Chief John J. Bresnan (left) answering a call (1887).jpg
Battalion Chief John J. Bresnan (left) answering a call in 1887. While leading men into a building fire in 1894, Bresnan became trapped and suffocated when a roof collapsed. It was stated: “no braver, abler or more conscientious man than John J. Bresnan ever drew a paycheck in the service of the City of New York.”[13]
File:Metropolitan Fire Department.jpg
Original sheet celebrating the official formation of the Metropolitan Fire Department, 1866

In 1865, the volunteer fire department was abolished by a state act which created the Metropolitan Fire District and the Metropolitan Fire Department (MFD). This effectively gave control of the fire departments in the cities of New York and Brooklyn to the Governor who appointed his Board of Commissioners. There was never any effective incorporation of the fire departments of the two cities during this period. It wasn't until the Greater City of New York was consolidated in 1898 that the two were combined under one common organization or organizational structure. The change met with a mixed reaction from the citizens, and some of the eliminated volunteers became bitter and resentful, which resulted in both political battles and street fights. The insurance companies in the city, however, finally won the battle and had the volunteers replaced with paid professionals. The members of the paid fire department were primarily selected from the prior volunteers. All of the volunteer's apparatus, including their fire houses, were seized by the state who made use of them to form the new organization and form the basis of the current FDNY. The MFD lasted until 1870 when the Tweed Charter ended state control in the city. As a result, a new Board of Fire Commissioners was created and the original name of the Fire Department City of New York (FDNY) was reinstated.

Initially, the paid fire service only covered present day Manhattan, until the act of 1865 which united Brooklyn with Manhattan to form the Metropolitan District. The same year the fire department consisted of 13 Chief Officers and 552 Company Officers and firemen. The officers and firemen worked a continuous tour of duty, with three hours a day off for meals and one day off a month, and were paid salaries according to their rank or grade. 1865 also saw the first adoption of regulations, although they were fairly strict and straitlaced. Following several large fires in 1866 which resulted in excessive fire losses and a rise in insurance rates, the fire department was reorganized under the command of General Alexander Shaler, and with military discipline the paid department reached its full potential which resulted in a general reduction in fire losses. In 1870 the merit system of promotion in the Fire Department was established. Southwestern Westchester County (which would later become the western Bronx) was annexed by New York in 1874 and the volunteers there were phased out and replaced by the paid department. This pattern was repeated as City services expanded elsewhere.


On January 1, 1898 the different areas of New York were consolidated, which ushered the Fire Department into a new era. All the fire forces in the various sections were brought under the unified command of the first Commissioner in the history of the Fire Department. This same year Richmond (now Staten Island) became a part of the City of New York, but the volunteer units there remained in place until they were gradually replaced by paid units in 1915, 1928, 1932 and 1937 when only two volunteer units remained, Oceanic Hook & Ladder Vol Engine and Richmond Fire. In 1976 a third volunteer fire company, Metro Fire Association Volunteer Fire Company was given a charter to operate within Staten Island and with an old 1954 Ward LaFrance Fire Apparatus began to respond to emergencies in Staten Island.

The unification of the Fire Department, which took place in 1898, would pave the way for many changes. In 1909 the Fire Department received its first piece of motorized fire apparatus. On March 25, 1911 a fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company killed 146 workers, most of whom were young female immigrants. Later the same year the fire college was formed to train new fire fighters, and in 1912 the Bureau of Fire Prevention was created.

In 1919 the Uniformed Firefighters Association was formed. Tower ladders and the Super Pumper System were introduced in 1965. Major apparatus of the Super Pumper System (the Super Pumper and the Super Tender) was phased out in 1982, in favor of the Maxi-Water Unit. But the 5 Satellite Units of the system, together with the Maxi-Water Unit (known as Satellite 6 since 1999) are still actively used as of 2007 for multiple alarm fires and certain other incidents. These are now called the Satellite Water System. Other technical advances included the introduction of high pressure water systems, the creation of a Marine fleet, adoption of vastly improved working conditions and the utilization of improved radio communications.

On November 23, 1965, incoming Mayor Lindsay announced the appointment of Robert O. Lowery as Fire Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department. His was the first commissioner level appointment announced by the Mayor-elect. Lowery, who was the first African American to serve as a Fire Commissioner of a major U.S. city, served in that position for more than 7 years until his resignation on September 29, 1973 in order to campaign for then-Controller Abraham D. Beame, the Democratic candidate for Mayor.[14] In 1982 the first female firefighters joined the ranks of the Fire Department.

File:New York Fire Truck HDR.jpg
The Manhattan quarters of FDNY Ladder Company 8, also known as the Ghostbuster's Firehouse

In 1984 and 1989, the comedy films Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II used the Manhattan Ladder Company 8 building for the externals of the Ghostbusters' office building. On March 17, 1996, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani merged the emergency medical services of the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation into the FDNY.

September 11, 2001 attacks

File:WTC-remnant highres.jpg
A New York City firefighter looks up at what remains of the World Trade Center after its collapse during the September 11 attacks

On September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center's North and South Towers, respectively, causing massive damage to both towers during impact, and starting fires that caused the weakened 110-story skyscrapers to collapse.[15]

FDNY fire companies and EMS crews were deployed to the World Trade Center minutes after Flight 11 struck the north tower. Chief officers set up a command center in the lobby as first arriving units entered the tower and firefighters began climbing the stairs. A mobile command center was also set up outside on Vesey Street, but was destroyed when the towers collapsed. A command post was then set up at a firehouse in Greenwich Village. The FDNY deployed 200 units to the site, with more than 400 firefighters, EMTs and paramedics on the scene when the towers collapsed.[16]

File:NY Firefighter Deputy chief at wtc.jpg
A New York City Deputy chief fire coordinates the recovery effort underway at the World Trade Center

Many firefighters arrived at the World Trade Center without meeting at the command centers. Problems with radio communication caused commanders to lose contact with many of the firefighters who went into the towers; those firefighters were unable to hear evacuation orders.[17] There was practically no communication with the New York City Police Department, which had helicopters at the scene. When the towers collapsed, hundreds were killed or trapped within. 343 FDNY firefighters who responded to the attacks lost their lives. The fatalities included First Deputy Commissioner William M. Feehan, Chief of Department Peter Ganci[16] Department Chaplain Mychal Judge,[18] Battalion Chief Orio Palmer and Fire Marshal Ronald Bucca[19][20][21]

Meanwhile, average response times to fires elsewhere in the city that day only rose by one minute, to 5.5 minutes.[22] Many of the surviving firefighters continued to work alternating 24-hour shifts as part of the rescue and recovery effort. Firefighters and EMS personnel came from hundreds of miles around New York City, including numerous career and volunteer units in Upstate New York, Long Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida and even Michigan.


A typical New York City firehouse. Pictured is the Brooklyn quarters of Engine Co. 205 and Ladder Co. 118, depicting a mural dedicated to firefighters lost on 9/11.

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks the Fire Department has rebuilt itself and continues to serve the people of New York. During the Northeast Blackout of 2003, FDNY was called on to rescue hundreds of people from stranded elevators in approximately 800 Manhattan high-rise office and apartment buildings. The entire fire department was held over from the day tour to almost double the total force to 3,401 firefighters to handle the many fires which resulted, reportedly from people using candles for light.[23]

At the beginning of the 21st century, there are 11,400 uniformed fire officers and firefighters under the command of the Chief of Department. The New York City Fire Department also includes 2800 Emergency Medical Technicians, Paramedics and Supervisors assigned to Department's EMS Command, and 1200 civilian employees.[10]

In 2011, a firefighter named Brooke was hired as the FDNYs first openly transgender employee.[24]

On July 16, 2012, federal judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, a Federal judge for the Eastern District of New York, ordered the New York City Fire Department to implement racial quotas to address grievances from minorities who failed entrance exams. His ruling requires two of every five newly hired firefighters to be black and one of every five, Hispanic until the department has fulfilled the court-ordered quota of 186 black and 107 Hispanic hires. This is due to a lawsuit that alleges two placement exams (Written Exams 7029 or 2043) for the FDNY were discriminatory against blacks and Hispanics, because fewer minorities passed the exam than whites.[25]

Daniel A. Nigro is the current commissioner of the FDNY. He was appointed to this job by New York City mayor Bill de Blasio in June 2014.[26]

Ideology and core competencies

File:FDNY Haz-Tec.JPG
A typical FDNY Haz-Tac. Ambulance
A typical FDNY EMS station

The FDNY derives its name from the Tweed Charter which created the Fire Department of the City of New York. This is in contrast to most other fire departments in the U.S. where the name of the city precedes the words fire department.[27]


  • The FDNY ideology of aggressive interior fire attack grew naturally out of the building and population density that characterize the city.[28]
  • The contribution of Irish & Italian Americans to the FDNY dates back to the formation of the paid fire department. During the Civil War New York's Irish & Italian firefighters were the backbone of the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment (New York Fire Zouaves), a highly decorated unit.[29]
  • Members of the FDNY have the nickname "New York's Bravest".[1]
  • Members of the FDNY EMS have the nickname "New York's Best".[30]
  • In addition to firefighting, rescue and HAZMAT, FDNY stations ambulances throughout the city and supplies paramedics and EMTs.

Together with ambulances run by certain participating hospitals (locally known as voluntaries, not to be confused with volunteers) and private companies, it is known as the FDNY EMS Command, which is the largest pre-hospital care provider in the world, responding to over 1.5 million calls each year. All of the FDNY EMS Command members are also trained to the HAZMAT Operations level. A select group of 39 EMS units (18 BLS & 21 ALS) are known as Hazardous Material Tactical Units (Haz-Tac Ambulances) whose members are trained to the level of Hazardous Materials Technician which allows them to provide emergency medical care and decontamination in a hazardous environment, in addition to their normal 911 duties. Of these 39, eleven are also Rescue Paramedic Ambulances whose crews are additionally trained for: Confined space rescue, Trench Rescue, Crush Injuries, and Building Collapse Rescues. The Rescue Medics operate with additional exclusive protocols and specialized medical equipment.[31]

Core competencies

File:NYC firehose connection 18.jpg
A fire department sprinkler siamese connection in Manhattan

A citywide Incident Management System plan released by the Office of the Mayor on May 14, 2004 set forth several "core competencies" which determine which agency has the authority to direct operations.[32] FDNY core competencies include:

  • Fire suppression
  • Pre-hospital emergency medical care
  • Search and rescue
  • Structural evacuation
  • CBRNE/HAZMAT life safety and mass decontamination
  • Cause and origin, and arson investigations
  • Fire prevention inspections


File:FDNY radio Empire Blvd jeh.JPG
The FDNY Brooklyn Communications Dispatch Office
The FDNY Queens Communications Dispatch Office in Woodhaven, Queens

As of 2010 there are three Bureau of Fire Communications Dispatch Offices: 11 Metrotech Center, Brooklyn; 1120 E. 180th St., Bronx; 83-98 Woodhaven Blvd., Queens. 11 Metrotech Center houses the Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island Communications Dispatch Offices. The Bronx and Queens Dispatch Offices are housed in individual buildings in their respective boroughs. However, plans are being made to consolidate the Bronx and Queens Offices into a single building to be constructed in the near future.

An initial call to an FDNY Communications Dispatch Office is taken by the Alarm Receipt Dispatcher (ARD) who speaks with the caller in order to determine the nature of the emergency. The ARD enters the information by keyboard into the Starfire computer system, which gives a recommended fire department resource response based on the information provided. This information is automatically sent to the Decision Dispatcher (DD) and the "Tour Supervising Dispatcher" (TSD).

When the Decision Dispatcher has made a decision as to what units will actually be assigned to the incident, unless the supervisor intervenes, he or she pushes the "release" button and the alarm is routed to the assigned companies, both in their respective firehouses and to the individual mobile data terminals (MDT) of each company's apparatus when it is in the field, depending on where the Starfire computer shows them to be situated. If a company/unit in a firehouse does not acknowledge the run within 30 seconds, the computer will notify the Voice Alarm Dispatcher (VAD), who will call that unit via radio in their firehouse by the dedicated intercom system. One minute after the alarm is released, it will appear on the computer screen of the radio dispatcher (Radio), who will announce the alarm and the response two times and ask for acknowledgment from any companies assigned who have not done so by radio, voice alarm or MDT. The radio dispatcher has a special keyboard called the Status Entry Panel (SEP), which is used to update the status of units based on information received by radio.

The entire process from initial notification until a unit is dispatched can take up to two (2) minutes, depending on the complexity of the call, the information provided by the caller(s) and the degree of other alarm activity in the office. If a dispatch office is so busy that its incoming telephone alarm lines are all busy or not answered within 30 seconds, the call is automatically transferred to another borough dispatch office. If an Emergency Reporting System (ERS) street fire alarm box is not answered with 60 seconds, usually because all of the alarm receipt consoles are in use, the computer automatically dispatches an engine company to the location of the physical street fire alarm box.

Any communications dispatch office in the city can take a fire or emergency call by telephone for any borough and upon completion of information taking, the incident will automatically be routed by the Starfire computer to the Decision Dispatcher (DD) for the borough in which the incident is reported.

Fire Dispatch has a minimum staffing (Staffing Level 1) which consist of 1 Chief Dispatcher who supervises 5 Tour Supervising Dispatchers (1 in each Borough). The TSU's supervise 5 Dispatchers (2 ARD's, 1 DD, 1 VAD, 1 Radio) in each borough except Staten Island which has 4 minimum (1 ARD, 1 DD, 1 VAD, 1 Radio).

Alarm receipt and transmittal

File:Fire Dpt monument 100 RSD jeh.JPG
The Firemen's Memorial, a monument to the heroes of the Fire Department in Manhattan

There are four ways in which fires and emergencies can be reported to the New York City Fire Department: Telephone Alarms; Fire Alarm Boxes; "Class 3" Alarms; Verbal Alarms.

  • Telephone Alarms are the most common method of contacting the fire department. A telephone alarm is an alarm in which a civilian uses a telephone to dial one of three types of numbers: The first is 9-1-1, which is answered by New York City Police Department (NYPD) operators. The NYPD operators will then transfer the call to a fire department communications office. The second involves dialing "0" which routes the call to a telephone company operator, who then transfers the call to the fire alarm dispatchers in the proper borough dispatch office. The third is a special seven-digit telephone number which is published in each borough for the specific purpose of reporting fires. This number is a direct contact to a particular borough's fire department communications dispatch office.
  • Fire Alarm Boxes are the second most common method of contacting the fire department. FDNY fire alarm boxes are located on certain street corners and in certain public buildings such as schools and hospitals, as well as along highways, on bridges, etc. These boxes primarily consist of two types: The first is the mechanical box (also commonly called a pull-box or a telegraph box) in which a spring-wound mechanism alternately opens and closes an electrical circuit, thereby rendering a coded number linked to the specific location of the box. Until the advent of the Starfire "Computer-Assisted Dispatch System" (CADS), dispatchers had to audibly count the taps from mechanical boxes when they were received in the central offices to decipher the number of the box that was pulled. Today, a "Box Alarm Readout System" (BARS) display handles that aspect of the job; The second type is the "Emergency Reporting System" (ERS) box that is equipped with buttons to notify either the FDNY or the NYPD, allowing either department's dispatcher to have direct voice communication with the reporting party. Beginning in the 1970s, ERS boxes started to replace mechanical boxes in many areas of the city, particularly where the number of false alarms involving mechanical boxes were high. In December 1994, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and then-Fire Commissioner Howard Safir began a concerted effort to remove all of the mechanical and ERS boxes throughout New York City in a cost-cutting move. Facing stiff opposition from members of the city council, community groups, dispatchers and others, the move was blocked by court order as being discriminatory against the disabled (i.e., particularly the speech- and/or hearing-impaired) who – along with the poor – might otherwise have no dependable way to report fires and emergencies if the alarm boxes were eliminated. (In addition, unlike many other cities in the world, it was noted that 117 different languages and dialects are spoken by the residents of and visitors to the city. Since, unlike telephones, a fire alarm box requires no verbal contact to indicate its exact location, a person would not have to be able to speak – at all – or to understand English in order to alert the FDNY to a fire or emergency. For this reason, as well, the boxes were recognized as being vital to New Yorkers' safety.)
  • "Class 3" Alarms are less common than the first two means of reporting fires. A "Class 3" alarm is one of three numerical classes of alarms given by the FDNY's Bureau of Communications to alert the fire department to automatic fire alarm systems which are routed through commercial alarm companies. These firms monitor sprinkler systems, standpipes, smoke detectors and internal pull-stations in non-public occupancies such as factories, warehouses, stores and office buildings. When alarms are received from such accounts, these companies pass-along the information to the FDNY central offices, usually by dedicated telephone circuits. The term "Class 3" derives from the fact that the box number on such an assignment card would have a "3" preceding it as well as a "terminal" following it (e.g., "3-7012-4" would indicate a private alarm system in a commercial occupancy at a specific address in the immediate vicinity of Box 7012 on the corner of Review Avenue and Laurel Hill Boulevard in Queens). In such cases, the type of alarm (e.g., sprinkler, smoke detector, interior pull-station, etc.) and an exact address – and, often, even a specific section of a building – would instantly be made available to responding units.)
  • Verbal Alarms are the least common means of reporting fires or emergencies generally involves civilians "verbally" making such reports directly to firehouses or fire companies –or– when incidents are observed by fire units themselves when they are away from their quarters. However, "verbal" alarms may also be reported by chief officers, Department officials (e.g., commissioners, medical officers, chaplains, et al.) or civilian employees of the FDNY (e.g., communications electricians, mechanics and such – even the dispatchers themselves) who observe fires or emergencies in the course of the performance of their duties. If a fire company is available, in quarters, it will immediately respond to the incident after advising the dispatchers of the same via telephone, voice alarm or radio. If the unit is away from its firehouse (e.g., responding to or operating at another alarm, on inspection duty, etc.) at the time, the company will either stop at the new incident and operate, or the officer will request a separate assignment (as the reporting unit is unavailable to operate). Based on the information received by the dispatchers, the appropriate action (e.g., transmitting a new box, etc.) is initiated in regard to the new incident.

When a member of the public dials 911, he or she is connected to a police department operator who assigns the call to where it needs to go based on the information provided.

  • If it is police related, the information is sent to an N.Y.P.D. radio dispatcher for the precinct or special unit concerned.
  • If it is on a bridge or in tunnel connected to New Jersey or at Kennedy or LaGuardia Airport, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is also notified.
  • If it is a fire, haz-mat or rescue incident, the 9-1-1 operator transfers the call by dedicated phone line to the appropriate FDNY communications dispatch office. (Depending on the type of incident, the NYPD may notify its own Emergency Service Units to respond instead of or along with the Fire Department.)

Fire alarm dispatchers handle comparatively few medical calls made directly to them, since the vast majority of such incidents are routed straight to the FDNY's EMS communications office by the NYPD 9-1-1 operators. However, a medical call that requires the assistance of "first-responder"-trained fire units will have said request routed electronically to the appropriate fire alarm central office for the assignment of the proper personnel and apparatus.

Box numbers

Each address in the city is assigned a box number, based on the closest street, special building or highway box. The term "box" refers to the Fire Alarm Boxes, which at one time lined street corners and in front of certain buildings. Each Fire Alarm Box was given a specific number by the FDNY's Bureau of Communications. Even if the physical fire alarm box is no longer at a specific address or street corner, the address or street corner is still assigned that fire alarm box's number. Box numbers can be duplicated in different boroughs, which is why they are always identified by borough name or numerical prefix on the computer (66 for Bronx and Manhattan, 77 for Brooklyn, 88 for Staten Island and 99 for Queens). If there is also a street address given to the dispatchers, the responding apparatus will get this information in the firehouse, over the air, and via their mobile data terminals in the rigs, in addition to the Box number. At present there are about 16,000 physical fire alarm street boxes in New York City, with many additional special building boxes and highway boxes, as well as "dummy boxes" used for special response assignments. In addition there are two airport crash boxes, one in the LaGuardia Tower, (Queens Box 37), and one in the JFK Tower, (Queens Box 269), which can only be activated by the personnel in these towers. When either box is sounded it brings an automatic second alarm (2–2) response of equipment, along with various special units.

Critical Information Dispatch System

Critical Information Dispatch System (CIDS, pronounced by the dispatcher as "Sids") information is transmitted to units in the firehouse and en route. It is information that is collected on a building during inspections and by public input, which would have an impact on fire-fighting operations. Such things as:

  • warehoused apartments,
  • type and length of line stretch (or hose),
  • number of apartments per floor,
  • unsafe conditions, standpipe conditions, and
  • anything else the Bureau of Fire Communications or the FDNY Staff Chiefs deem important

This information is printed on the fire ticket and can be read by the dispatcher if requested. This information is also read automatically when a signal 10–75 (working fire) or higher signal is given or when the supervising dispatcher deems it is important for the units to have it before arrival at an incident.

Radio bell code signals

The New York City Fire Department utilizes a series of radio bell code signals and 10-code signals to transmit and relay information during general department operations and during emergency situations. Below is a listing of radio bell code signals and commonly used 10-code signals used by the FDNY on a daily basis.

Signal Meaning
1–1 1st Alarm Response Transmitted "Box after Initial" (Upon additional information or sources received at dispatch operations, dispatchers will fill the optimum assignment compared to the minimum response. Response Assignment varies depending on the nature of the reported emergency. This is not a signal that there is a working fire or emergency, A "10-75" or Signal 7-5 (announced as an "All Hands") used by a responding unit or chief is confirmation of a fire or emergency)
2-2 2nd Alarm announcement and response.
3 Indicating an alarm originating in a special FDNY Alarm Box (8000 series boxes).
3-3 3rd Alarm announcement and response.
4 Battalion Chief response required.
4-4 4th Alarm announcement and response.
5 Engine Company response required.
5-5 5th Alarm announcement and response.
5–7 1 Engine Company and 1 Ladder Company response required.
5-5-5-5 Line of Duty Death (LODD), Flags lowered to half staff.
6 Marine Company response required.
6-5-2 Department message.
6-6 Preliminary Signal for the Boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. (The Box number following the preliminary signal will determine the Borough ; Manhattan and the Bronx do not have the same Street Box numbers.)
7 Ladder Company response required.
7-5 All-Hands announcement "All hands going to work (or operating)". This is a signal that is given by a Chief which indicates that at least 3 Engine's and 2 Ladder Companies are (or will be) operating at a scene of a confirmed emergency. This requires the assignment of an additional Engine Company, A "FAST" (Firefighter Assist and Search Team)Company, an additional Battalion Chief, A Squad Company, A Rescue Company and A "RAC" (Recuperation and Care Unit".
7-7 Preliminary Signal for the Borough of Brooklyn.
8 Squad Company response required.
8-8 Preliminary Signal for the Borough of Staten Island.
9 Preliminary report for Special Units.
9-9 Preliminary Signal for the Borough of Queens.
10 Rescue Company response required.
14 Battalion Chief relocation or returning from relocation.
15 Engine Company relocation or returning from relocation.
16 Marine Company relocation or returning from relocation.
17 Ladder Company relocation or returning from relocation.

10-code signals

There are 55 10-codes used by the New York City Fire Department.[33] Once a staple of many major fire departments, the FDNY is currently one of the last large fire departments in the country that uses radio signals and 10-codes as opposed to "plain English" to relay messages. There are also sub codes for various codes which are specific to the incident.

Below is a list of the most commonly used 10-codes one might hear over an FDNY radio:

  • 10-1: Call Your Quarters by Telephone
  • 10-2: Unit to Return to Quarters
  • 10-3: Call Your Dispatch Office By Telephone
  • 10-4: Message Acknowledged
  • 10-5: Repeat your message.
  • 10-6: Stand-By
  • 10-7: Verify Address/Location
  • 10-8: Unit is Available
  • 10-9: Off the air
  • 10-10: Current Location
  • 10-11: Provide a Radio Test Count
  • 10-12: Preliminary Report
  • 10-14: Roster Staffed Engine Co.
  • 10-15: Roster Staffed Ladder Co.
  • 10-18: Return all companies except 1 Engine Co. and 1 Ladder Co.
  • 10-19: Return all companies except 1 Engine Co. or 1 Ladder Co.
  • 10-20: Proceed at Reduced Speed
  • 10-21: Brush Fire
  • 10-22: Outside Rubbish Fire
  • 10-23: Abandon Vehicle Fire (Not registered)
  • 10-24: Vehicle Fire(Registered with plates)
  • 10-25: Manhole or Transformer Fire or Emergency
  • 10-26: Food on stove fire
  • 10-27: Compactor or Incinerator Fire
  • 10-28: Subway or Railroad Emergency
  • 10-31: Assist Civilian / Non-medical
  • 10-32: Defective Oil Burner
  • 10-33: Odor of Smoke
  • 10-34: Sprinkler System Emergency
  • 10-35: Unwarranted or Unnecessary Alarm Activation
  • 10-36: Auto Accident
  • 10-37: EMS/Medical-Related Incident
  • 10-38: Carbon Monoxide Emergency
  • 10-39: Inter-agency incident stand by
  • 10-40: Utility Emergency
  • 10-41: Suspicious Fire
  • 10-44: Ambulance Response Requested
  • 10-45: Fire-Related Injury
  • 10-47: Police Department Response Requested
  • 10-48: Police Department Response Requested for harassment
  • 10-50: Generic Notification (Specify)
  • 10-51: Suspension of Outside Activities
  • 10-60: Major Emergency
  • 10-66: Missing, Trapped, or Lost Firefighter
  • 10-70: Water Supply is Required
  • 10-75: Notification of a Fire or Emergency
  • 10-76: Working Fire in a High-Rise Commercial Building
  • 10-77: Working Fire in a High-Rise Hotel or Residential Building
  • 10-80: Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat.) Incident
  • 10-84: Unit has Arrived at the Location/Box
  • 10-85: Fire Marshall Request for Urgent Police Response
  • 10-86: Fluoroprotein Foam Operation
  • 10-87: High Expansion Foam Operation
  • 10-91: Fire dept unit not required for EMS incident
  • 10-92: Malicious False Alarm
  • 10-99: Unit(s) will be Operating Longer than 30 Minutes

A Signal 10-75 is transmitted by the first arriving fire company or chief, reporting a "Working Fire", confirming that a reported structural fire incident is indeed a fire. A Working Fire is an incident where there is visible smoke or fire showing from a structure that will warrant the assigned fire companies to the incident being "put to work". Contrary to common belief, a 10–75 can be transmitted where the emergency is non-fire related but appears to require a full response assignment, or full 1st Alarm. To a report of a structural fire anywhere in the city, 3 Engine Companies, 2 Ladder Companies, and a Battalion Chief are dispatched on the response assignment. When a 10–75 transmitted, a 4th Engine Company, a 3rd Ladder Company, a 2nd Battalion Chief, and a Deputy Division Chief are added to the response assignment. Also, a Rescue Company and a Squad Company are automatically assigned, unless they have already been assigned on the box. The 3rd Ladder Company assigned acts as the "Firefighter Assist and Search Team" (F.A.S.T.) Truck.

When all companies are put to work at an incident or at a Working Fire, the Bell Code Signal 7-5 is transmitted over the Starfire computer system, but on the radio the listener will simply hear the terms "All Hands" or "All Companies at Work (or Working)." This message is radioed by a Chief at the scene, who is reporting that all personnel and companies at the scene at being "put to work". If the "All Hands" is in a subway or railroad facility, or any other location where communications might be difficult, a Field Communications Unit is sent. A Deputy Division Chief is mandatory assigned on transmission of the Signal 7-5, but he almost always responds on a Working Fire already.

Special calls for additional units above a Signal 7-5 are by number and type of unit. A Dispatcher's greater alarm, formerly used to fill out special call requests during busy periods of fire activity, has been eliminated from dispatch procedures.

Higher alarms bring additional ladders, engines and special equipment, depending on location and type of incident. Greater alarms are a Second (Signal 2–2), a Third (3–3), a Fourth (4–4), and a Fifth (5–5). Technically there are no alarms greater than a Fifth Alarm and no computer signals exist for them. If a chief asks for a sixth or higher alarm, it has to be written out as such in the computer and companies are assigned by the Supervising Dispatcher of the Tour. Borough calls and simultaneous calls, previously used for incidents that required more than a five alarm assignment, have been eliminated from dispatch procedures. For each "Higher Alarm" (2nd alarm through 5th alarm) require notifications to various agencies depending on the specific alarm and coordination for specific resources. Other elements such as but not limited to, the Relocation of Units into the surrounding area, Special Instructions and/or Designation of Special Task's, The Staging Area Location, Monitoring of Reports and City Wide Relays also come into play based on the alarm level.

Any or all of these signals: 10–76, 10–77, 10–60, 10–66 and 10–80, can be used in conjunction with a 10–75, a 7–5 ("All Hands") or a greater alarm, depending on circumstances. For example, at the aforementioned Deutsche Bank Building Fatal Fire in 2007, seven alarms were struck in addition to the use of the 10–76, 10–66 and 10–80 signals. The 2007 Manhattan Steampipe explosion utilized six alarms, plus the 10–60 and 10–80 signals. If a 10–66 is transmitted as the result of a collapse, a 10–60 must also be transmitted; this will result in the next 2 higher alarms being transmitted (1 additional alarm for each signal).

Below is a list of the response protocol used by the fire department for structural fires.

Alarm Type Alarm Level Units Assigned
Signal 5-7 ("Class 3" Alarm) 1st Alarm 1 Engine, 1 Ladder, 1 Battalion Chief
Telephone or Box Alarm 1st Alarm 3 Engines, 1-2 Ladders, 1 Battalion Chief
Signal 10-75 (Working Fire) 1st Alarm *Upgrade* 1 Engine, 1 Ladder (F.A.S.T.), 1 Battalion Chief, 1 Rescue, 1 Squad
Signal 7-5 (All Hands Working) 1st Alarm, 10-75 *Upgrade* 1 Deputy Division Chief, 1 Rehab. and Care (R.A.C.) Unit
Signal 10-76 (Working Fire, High-Rise Commercial) 1st Alarm *Upgrade* 2 Engines (1 C.F.R.D./EMS, 1 Lobby Control), 3 Ladders (1 F.A.S.T.), 4 Battalion Chiefs (1 Safety), 1 Deputy Division Chief, 1 Rescue, 1 Squad, Rescue Battalion, Safety Battalion, 1 R.A.C. Unit, 1 High-Rise Unit (w/ associated Engine), 1 Tactical Support Unit (T.S.U.), 1 Mask Service Unit (M.S.U.), the Field Comm. Unit, 1 Comm. Tac. Unit
Signal 10-77 (Working Fire, High-Rise Residential) 1st Alarm *Upgrade* 2 Engines (1 C.F.R.D./EMS, 1 High-Rise Nozzle), 3 Ladders (1 F.A.S.T.), 3 Battalion Chiefs (1 Safety), 1 Deputy Division Chief, 1 Rescue, 1 Squad, Rescue Battalion, Safety Battalion,1 R.A.C. Unit, Vent Support Unit (Hi-Rise or Ladder Co.), the Field Comm. Unit, 1 Comm. Tac. Unit
Signal 2-2 2nd Alarm *Upgrade* 4 Engines, 2 Ladders, 3 Battalion Chiefs (1 Safety Officer, 1 Resource's Unit Leader, 1 Firefighting), Rescue Operations Battalion, Safety Operation's Battalion, 1 Satellite Unit (w/ associated Engine), 1 Tactical Support Unit, 1 Field Comm. Unit, And a Command Tactical Unit (CTU assigned by FDOC).
Signal 3-3 3rd Alarm *Upgrade* 4 Engines, 2 Ladders, 2 Battalion Chiefs (1 Staging rea Manager, 1 Air Recon Chief.), 1 Mask Service Unit, 1 Fuel Truck (Assigned by FDOC)
Signal 4-4 4th Alarm *Upgrade* 4 Engines, 2 Ladders, 1 Battalion Chief (Planning Chief), Incident Management Vehicle (With associated Engine Company), Department Chaplin (Assigned by FDOC).
Signal 5-5 5th Alarm *Upgrade* 4 Engines, 2 Ladders, 1 Assistant or Deputy Assistant Chief(Borough Commander)(Assigned by FDOC).
Higher Alarms 6th-12th Alarm/Borough Call *Upgrade* 4 Engines and 2 Ladders per Alarm

Fire companies

File:Peter Stehlik - FDNY Engine 34 - 2012.05.18.jpg
A typical FDNY Engine Company, also known as a Pumper Truck. Pictured is Engine Co. 34, quartered in Manhattan.
File:Peter Stehlik - FDNY Ladder 4 - 2012.05.23.jpg
A typical FDNY Ladder Company, also known as a Ladder Truck. Pictured is an Aerial Ladder Truck operated by Ladder Co. 4, quartered in Manhattan.
File:Dyker Heights Ladder 149.jpg
A Tower Ladder is another type of Ladder Truck operated by the FDNY. Pictured is a Tower Ladder Truck operated by Ladder Co. 149, quartered in Brooklyn.
File:Ladder 5 FDNY on 8th Av 48th St jeh.jpg
A Tiller or Tractor-Drawn Aerial Ladder is another type of Ladder Truck operated by the FDNY. Pictured is a Tiller Ladder Truck operated by Ladder Co. 5, quartered in Manhattan.
File:Peter Stehlik - FDNY Rescue 1 - 2012.05.18.JPG
A typical FDNY Rescue Company, also known as a Rescue Truck. Pictured is Rescue Co. 1, which serves a large portion of Manhattan.
File:ThreeFortyThree FireFighterII.jpg
Marine Company 1, "Fireboat Three Forty Three", quartered on the Hudson River, and Marine Company 9, "Fireboat Firefighter II", quartered in New York Harbor.
File:Peter Stehlik - FDNY HazMat 1 - 2012.05.23.jpg
Haz-Mat. Company 1, quartered in Queens, responds to all major hazardous materials-related calls city-wide.
File:Peter Stehlik - FDNY HazMat 1A - 2012.05.23.jpg
Haz-Mat. Company 1's second piece of apparatus, which carries additional equipment and responds to all calls with the main apparatus.

The New York City Fire Department is made up of fire companies, similar to military companies of men and women. Each fire company operates a single type of Fire apparatus and has four shifts of firefighters and company officers. Each company responds to emergency calls from one of the city's 217 firehouses.

There are currently six different types of fire companies in the New York Fire Department which all operate distinct types of apparatus: 198 Engine Companies, 143 Ladder (or Truck) Companies, 5 Rescue Companies, 7 Squad Companies, 3 Marine (or Fireboat) Companies, and the Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat) Company. In addition to these six types of fire companies, there are numerous other specialized units that are operated by the Special Operations Command (S.O.C.), the Haz-Mat. Division, and the Marine Division. Each fire company has a specific role at the scene of an emergency.

Each type of fire company utilizes a certain type of fire apparatus, colloquially known as "rigs".

Engine companies

FDNY Engine Companies are tasked with securing a water supply from a fire hydrant, then extinguishing a fire. The apparatus of an Engine is known as a Pumper Truck and carries a pump (usually 1,000-2,000 gallons per minute), a water tank (usually 500 gallons), fire hoses of varying diameters (usually 1 3/4", 2 1/2", 3 1/2" and 4") in 50' lengths, emergency medical supplies, ground extension ladders, and an assortment of tools.

Ladder companies

FDNY Ladder Companies (also known as Truck Companies) are tasked with search and rescue, forcible entry, and ventilation at the scene of a fire. A Ladder Company can operate three types of Ladder Trucks: an Aerial Ladder Truck, equipped with a 100' aerial ladder mounted at the rear of the apparatus; a Tower Ladder Truck, equipped with either a 75' or 95' telescoping boom and bucket mounted in the center of the apparatus; a Tractor Drawn Aerial Ladder Truck, or Tiller/Tractor Trailer, equipped with a 100' aerial ladder. A Ladder Company carries various forcible entry, ventilation, and rescue tools to deal with an assortment of fires and emergencies, including motor vehicle accidents.

Rescue companies

FDNY Rescue Companies are composed of the elite, highly and specially trained, most experienced members of the New York Fire Department. A Rescue Company is tasked with responding to and dealing with specialized fire and rescue incidents that are beyond the scope and duties of a standard Engine or Ladder Company. Rescue Companies operate Rescue Trucks, colloquially known as "tool boxes on wheels", which carry a wide variety of specialized tools and equipment to aide in operations at technical rescues, collapse/confined space rescues, water/dive rescues, high-angle/below-grade rescues, etc. They respond to all fires within their response district as well.

  • Rescue 1 serves Manhattan below 125th St. on the West Side and below 116th St. on the East Side. Rescue 1's quarters are located at 530 W. 43rd St. in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Midtown, Manhattan.
  • Rescue 2 serves central and northwestern Brooklyn. Rescue 2's quarters are located at 1472 Bergen St. in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.
  • Rescue 3 serves the Bronx and Harlem above 125th St. on the West Side and above 116th St. on the East Side. Rescue 3's quarters are located at 1655 Washington Ave. in the Claremont neighborhood of the Bronx.
  • Rescue 4 serves Queens. Rescue 4 is quartered with Engine 292 at 64-18 Queens Blvd. in the Woodside neighborhood of Queens.
  • Rescue 5 serves Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn. Rescue 5 is quartered with Engine 160 and the Chief of the 8th Division at 1850 Clove Rd. in the Grasmere neighborhood of Staten Island.

Squad companies

FDNY Squad Companies are also composed of specially trained firefighters of the New York Fire Department. Squad Companies were initially established by the FDNY to serve as "manpower companies" to supplement the manpower and operations of Engine and Ladder Companies. Today, Squad Companies can function as either Engine or Ladder Companies at the scene of a fire, but are also equipped with similar equipment and specialized tools as the Rescue Company. In particular, members of a Squad Company are highly trained in mitigating hazardous materials (Haz-Mat) incidents, supplementing the FDNY's single Haz-Mat Company. A Squad Company operates a Pumper Truck with additional specialized tools and equipment. Squad Companies also operate a small step van as a second piece of apparatus to respond to Haz-Mat incidents.

  • Squad 1 serves eastern Brooklyn and Staten Island. Squad 1's quarters are located at 788 Union St. in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn.
  • Squad 18 serves Manhattan below 125th St. Squad 18's quarters are located at 132 W. 10th St. in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan.
  • Squad 41 serves the southwestern Bronx. Squad 41's quarters are located at 330 E. 150th St. in the South Bronx neighborhood of the Bronx.
  • Squad 61 serves the northeastern Bronx. Squad 61 is quartered with the Chief of the 20th Battalion at 1518 Williamsbridge Rd. in the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx.
  • Squad 252 serves western Brooklyn. Squad 252's quarters are located at 617 Central Ave. in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn.
  • Squad 270 serves eastern Queens. Squad 270 is quartered with the Chief of the 13th Division at 91-45 121st St. in the Richmond Hill neighborhood of Queens.
  • Squad 288 serves western Queens. Squad 288 is quartered with Haz-Mat. 1 at 56-29 68th St. in the Maspeth neighborhood of Queens.

Marine companies

FDNY Marine Companies are the New York Fire Department's fireboats and are tasked with SCUBA/dive rescue and off-land firefighting in New York's rivers and harbors. The FDNY's three Marine Companies operate large fireboats and smaller, secondary rescue boats to respond to various marine-related emergencies.

Hazardous materials company

The FDNY Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat) Company, Haz-Mat 1 (quartered in Queens), responds to all major city-wide hazardous materials incidents, building collapses, contamination-related incidents, terrorism-related disasters, major emergencies, and a variety of other incidents in which their services may be needed. Like the Rescue and Squad Companies of the FDNY, members of Haz-Mat. Company 1 are experienced and specially trained to deal with hazardous situations. The Haz-Mat Company operates a Haz-Mat Truck, similar to a Rescue Truck, which carries a variety of equipment to deal with hazardous situations. Haz-Mat. 1 also operates a smaller Rescue Truck which carries extra equipment not carried on the company's main piece of apparatus. The Haz-Mat. Company is supplemented by the Squad Companies primarily, the Rescue Companies, and a handful of Engine Companies whose members are certified Haz-Mat Technicians. These Engine Companies, like the Squad Companies, also operate smaller step vans that carry Haz-Mat equipment.

Apparatus manufacturers

In recent years, FDNY has used several fire apparatus manufacturers nearly exclusively. Beginning in the late 1970s, Mack and American LaFrance made most of the pumpers and ladder trucks in the FDNY fleet. In the late 1980s, Mack made only chassis and not apparatus bodies, so Ward was used for truck bodies. Often Mack would work with Baker Aerialscope to create its tower ladders. Mack left the fire apparatus business in the early 1990s and FDNY turned to Seagrave to develop its next generation of fire truck. FDNY's very specific specifications meant that few apparatus manufacturers could compete with Seagrave for the contract.

Most of the Engine Companies in FDNY's fleet are Seagrave Commander II's and Seagrave Marauder II's and include 500 gallon water tanks and either 1,000 or 2,000 gallon per minute pumps. The 2,000 gpm pumps are primarily located in the high-rise districts and are considered high pressure pumpers. With the loss of apparatus which occurred as a result of the September 11 attacks, FDNY began to use engines made by other companies including Ferrara, KME and E-One. The FDNY is making the move from a fixed cab to a "Split-Tilt" cab, so the Seagrave Marauder II Pumper will fill the FDNY's new order for 69 new pumpers. In 2014, FDNY went to KME for an order of 97 pumpers over the next few years. The new KME pumpers feature the split tilt cab and are also high pressure pumpers. As of January 2015, All future pumper orders will be ordered from KME. Seagrave will no longer make the split tilt cab, high pressure pumpers for the FDNY.

Ladder Companies are generally equipped with Seagrave aerials. Ladder length varies and often depends on the geographic area to which the unit is assigned. Those in the older sections of the city often use tiller trucks to allow for greater maneuverability. Before Seagrave was the predominant builder, Mack CF's built with Baker tower ladders were popular. Most FDNY aerials are built with 75’, 95' or 100' ladders. Tiller ladders, rear mount ladders and mid-mount tower ladders are the types of trucks used. In 2010, The FDNY chose Ferrara over Pierce, and E-One for a new contract that issued for 10–100' rear-mount ladder trucks, using a chassis and stainless steel cab custom-designed to FDNY specifications. Delivery of the first of these new trucks is anticipated in the 1st quarter of 2011.

For specialty units, FDNY uses a variety of manufacturers. Its current heavy rescues, often called a 'toolbox on wheels' were built by Ferrara. In 2010, a new contract was issued for five new rescue trucks, using a chassis and stainless steel cab custom-designed to FDNY specifications. As of January 2012, the new Ferrara Rescues 1–4 are in service, while the new Rescue 5 was, until it was involved in an incident and was taken out of service for repair. All issues should be resolved soon. Other specialty units, including hazardous material units, collapse trucks, and reserve rescues are made by American LaFrance, Pierce, E-One, Freightliner, and Ferrara (HAZMAT 1). Various body types include standard heavy rescue bodies, step vans, busses and smaller units built on GMC and Ford pick up truck bodies.

FDNY battalion and division chiefs as well as EMS supervisors operate with Ford Excursions which are soon to start being replaced by GMC pick-up trucks with caps and roll out trays in the bed.[34] EMS division chiefs use Crown Victorias and Chevy Impalas.

The ambulances used by FDNY EMS are usually manufactured by Horton Ambulance, and the modules are generally mounted on Ford F-350 light truck chassis. When NYC EMS merged with the FDNY in 1996, the ambulances had their orange stripe replaced with a red, and they were manufactured by Wheeled Coach, again on Ford F-350 chassis. Some of the older ambulances were built by Southern Ambulance Builders, and mounted on Chevrolet 3500 chassis


In addition to its engine, truck, and rescue companies, FDNY operates three Class I fireboats as Marine Companies:

Three older fireboats are kept in reserve: John D. McKean, Governor Alfred E. Smith, and Kevin C. Kane. A former FDNY Marine Unit, the John J. Harvey, is notable as having returned to active service as Marine 2 on September 11, 2001, and providing firefighting services for 80 hours following the attack.[35]

In 2010, the newly built fireboat Three Forty Three replaced the John D. McKean, which entered service in 1954, as Marine 1. A twin, 140-foot, vessel, Fire Fighter II, replaced Fire Fighter, dedicated in 1938, as Marine 9.[36] The two new boats cost $60 million, funded by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, and represented the city's first major investment in new fireboats in 50 years. The $2.4 million Bravest, commissioned on May 26, 2011, is smaller than the other two Class I boats, at 65 feet, but is able to operate in shallower waters, including those near the city's airports.

The department is also building a fleet of 14 smaller, class II fireboats, with ten 33-foot Rapid Response Fire, three 31-foot medical response and one 33-foot SCUBA boats expected to have been delivered by January 2013.[37]

Other units

File:Peter Stehlik - FDNY Battalion Chief 1 - 2012.05.28.jpg
1st Battalion Chief's former Command SUV, a 2003 Ford Excursion.
One of the many smaller S.O.C. Support Trucks operated by the FDNY for use at various emergencies.
  • Battalion Chief's Unit : A Battalion Chief's Unit is a command vehicle tasked with the responsibility of delivering a Battalion Chief to the fire scene. Once on the fire scene, the vehicle then takes on the role of a Command Vehicle, utilizing its radios and MDT equipment. There are 53 Battalion Chief's Units in the FDNY.
  • Division Chief's Unit : A Division Chief's Unit, like a Battalion Chief's Unit, is a command vehicle tasked with the responsibility of delivering a Division Chief to the fire scene. Once on the fire scene, the vehicle then takes on the role of a Command Vehicle, utilizing its radios and MDT equipment. There are 10 Division Chief's Units in the FDNY.
  • Mask Service Unit (M.S.U.) : The equipment in these vehicles refills the air bottles used by firefighters to breathe in a fire.
  • Recuperation and Care Unit (R.A.C.) : A vehicle that is specially outfitted with equipment that will enable it to provide rehabilitation to firefighters on a fireground.
  • Field Communications Unit (Field Comm.) : A vehicle that is specially equipped with communication equipment such as telephones, broadband internet, and mobile radios. Its main responsibility is to provide communication support to the on scene Incident Commander.
  • Tactical Support Unit (T.S.U.) : A 4x4 vehicle equipped with generators and a variety of high intensity lights to aid firefighters during low light conditions. In addition, specialized equipment such as extrication tools and a six-person Avon boat is also carried.
  • Thawing Unit : The Thawing Units are vehicles that carry a portable steam-generating boiler; its super-heated steam melts the ice off of hoses, ladders and vehicles.
  • Brush Fire Unit : A vehicle that is a four-wheel-drive, all-terrain unit used to reach hilly, remote and marshy areas to extinguish fires involving weeds, grass and other vegetation. Along with regular firefighting equipment, it carries its own water, as well as rakes, shovels, and backpack extinguishers.
  • Ambulance : The New York City Fire Department staffs EMT-Basic and EMT Paramedic Ambulances to provide emergency medical services to the city of New York. These are commonly referred to by the slang term bus.
  • Haz-Tac Ambulance : 39 EMS Units are known as the Hazardous Material Tactical Units (Haz-Tac Ambulances), are trained to the Haz Mat Technician level allowing them to provide emergency medical care and decontamination in a hazardous environment, in addition to their normal 911 duties.
  • Rescue Medic : An ALS or paramedic ambulance that are trained to the Haz Mat Technician level and are also trained as Rescue Medical Technicians specializing in medical care in austere environments, the members of a rescue medic units are included in an extra 12% speciality pay.
  • EMS Conditions Unit is a vehicle that is assigned to an Emergency Medical Service supervisor. An Emergency Medical Service supervisor oversees ambulances within his or her assigned area.
  • Haz Tac Battalion Unit is a vehicle that is assigned to an Emergency Medical Service supervisor. This Officer is the Commanding Officer of the FDNY EMS SOC unit. The Officer is trained as a Hazmat Technician and as Rescue Technician. The unit responds to speciality assignments to oversee the medical management at special assignments and the overall operation of the Haz Tac Battalion.
  • Haz Tac Officer's Unit is a vehicle that is assigned to an Emergency Medical Service supervisor. This Officer is trained as a Hazmat Technician and as Rescue Technician. The unit responds to specialty assignments to oversee the medical management at special assignments. There are two units that cover the entire City of New York 24/7.
  • EMS MERV is a vehicle that is assigned to all major medical emergencies within its borough. The Major Emergency Response Vehicle is capable of treating multiple patients at a time.
  • EMS LSU is a vehicle assigned to all medical emergencies that have multiple patients. The Logistical Support Unit carries a surplus of certain medical supplies used at MCIs, this unit is also responsible for going to retrieve spinal immobilization equipment from area hospitals.

Union representation

The Department's lieutenants, captains, battalion chiefs, deputy chiefs, medical officers and supervising fire marshals are represented by the Uniformed Fire Officers Association (UFOA), regular firefighters and fire marshals are represented by the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA), and Fire Alarm Dispatchers, Supervising Fire Alarm Dispatchers, and Chief Fire Alarm Dispatchers are represented by the Uniformed Fire Alarm Dispatchers Benevolent Association—all three of which are locals of the International Association of Fire Fighters.[38] EMTs, paramedics and fire protection inspectors are represented by the Uniformed EMTs & Paramedics and EMS officers are represented by the Uniform EMS Officers Union, both of which are locals of District Council 37.[39]

In popular culture


The Fire Department of New York has appeared a number of times within literature. "Report from Engine Co. 82", "20,000 Alarms", and "The Last Men Out: Life on the Edge at Rescue 2 Firehouse" are three of the most famous pieces of FDNY literature.[40][41] In addition to memorials, the FDNY has produced a number of educational materials. One of these books is the 177 page "Fire Department of New York- Forcible Entry Reference Guide- Techniques and Procedures"[42]

Film and television

The New York City Fire Department has also appeared in numerous films and television shows. One of the earliest was the 1972 documentary Man Alive: The Bronx is Burning, for BBC Television. It was screened in the United Kingdom on September 27, 1972, and followed firefighters from a firehouse in the South Bronx: Battalion 27, Ladder 31 and Engine 82. It chronicled the appalling conditions the firefighters worked in with roughly one emergency call per hour, and the high rates of arson and malicious calls.[43] The documentary focused heavily on firefighter Dennis Smith, who served in the South Bronx area and went on to write Report from Engine Co. 82 and a number of other books. He has become a prominent speaker on firefighting policy.[44]

In the 1984 film Ghostbusters, Ladder 8's house at 14 North Moore Street in Tribeca was featured as the headquarters of the Ghostbusters. Ladder 8 has the sign from Ghostbusters II mounted on the wall inside the house, and is more or less resigned to fans of the franchise stopping by to take photos of the building and asking to pose with the sign.[45]

In 1991, FDNY firefighter Brian Hickey and his brother Raymond produced a documentary entitled Firefighters: Brothers in Battle.[46] The film features footage of fires and rescues throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including the Happy Land Social Club fire which killed 87 persons, dramatic rescues from a crashed airplane off of La Guardia Airport, and footage and interviews at Medal Day 1991. Raymond died of cancer in 1993 and Brian was killed on September 11, 2001, while operating at the World Trade Center.[47] Brian last served as Captain of Rescue Company 4 in Queens.

The 2002 documentary film 9/11 features the September 11, 2001, attacks from the perspective of two amateur film makers and the members of first responders, Engine 7/Ladder 1 and Battalion 1 on Duane street in Lower Manhattan.[48] The 2005 film Brotherhood: Life in the FDNY, focuses on Squad 252 in Brooklyn, Rescue 1 in Manhattan and Rescue 4 in Queens.

Television series about FDNY have included Rescue Me, which ran from 2004 to 2011 and depicted the fictional life of firefighters in an FDNY firehouse.[49] The NBC drama Third Watch ran from 1999 to 2005 and provided a fictionalized and dramatized depiction of the firefighters and paramedics of the FDNY and police officers of the New York City Police Department.

Ranks of the FDNY

Title Insignia (shirt collar) Insignia (dress jacket)
Chief of Department 5 Gold Bugles / 5 arm sleeve bands
Chief of Fire Operations / Chief of EMS Operations / Chief of Training / Chief of Fire Prevention 4 Gold Bugles / 4 arm sleeve bands
Assistant Chief / EMS Assistant Chief 4 Gold Bugles / 4 arm sleeve bands
Deputy Assistant Chief/ EMS Deputy Assistant Chief 4 Gold Bugles / 3 arm sleeve bands
Division Chief (Division Commander) / EMS Division Chief/Senior Chaplain 3 Gold Bugles / 2 arm sleeve bands
Deputy Chief / EMS Deputy Chief (Deputy Commander to Division Chief or citywide EMS shift supervisor)/Department Chaplain 3 Gold Bugles / 2 arm sleeve bands
Battalion Chief (Battalion Commander) 2 Gold Crossed Bugles / 1 arm sleeve band
Battalion Chief 2 Gold Crossed Bugles / 1 arm sleeve band
Captain (Company Commanding Officer, and commanding officer of the firehouse if assigned to an Engine or a Rescue company) / EMS Captain (EMS Station commanding officer or EMS Division shift supervisor) 2 Silver Parallel Bugles* / 2 arm sleeve bands
Lieutenant (Company Officer) / EMS Lieutenant (shift supervisor, desk or conditions) 1 Silver Bugles* / 1 arm sleeve band
Firefighter (5th through 1st Class, one class being achieved for each year of service after probation up to five years) / EMT / Paramedic
Probationary Firefighter (often referred to as "Probie", as slang for probationary fire fighter) / Provisional EMT / Provisional Paramedic
  • Note: In place of Bugle(s) Captains and Lieutenants assigned to: Ladder Companies are signified by axe(s), Rescue Companies by Life gun(s), Squad Companies by crossed Ladder(s) and Stacked Tip Nozzle(s) and Marine Companies by Bugle(s) with Anchor.

See also

Notes and references


  1. ^ a b New York's Bravest
  2. ^ a b "FDNY Vital Statistics CY 2013" (PDF). The City of New York. Retrieved September 7, 2014. 
  3. ^ New York City Charter § 481; "There shall be a fire department the head of which shall be the commissioner."
  4. ^
  5. ^ "9 Metrotech Center – FDNY Headquarters". Fresh Meadow Mechanical Corp. Retrieved on November 5, 2009.
  6. ^ "FDNY Fire Academy". 
  7. ^ "FDNY Photo Unit: Images of Heroes". Fire Department of New York. Retrieved December 3, 2007. 
  8. ^ "FDNY Fire Operations response on September 11" (PDF). Fire Department of New York. Retrieved February 23, 2007. 
  9. ^ The Story of the Volunteer Fire Department of the City of New York By George William Sheldon (Harper & Brothers, 1892)
  10. ^ a b "History of Fire Service". New York City Fire Department. Retrieved December 3, 2007. 
  11. ^ "Dutch Colonization". National Park Service. Retrieved December 3, 2007. 
  12. ^ a b "Heroes of Ground Zero; FDNY: A History". Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved December 3, 2007. 
  13. ^ "Bresnan and Assistant Foreman John L. Rooney". Findmypast. September 11, 2014. 
  14. ^ "LINDSAY SELECTS A NEGRO TO HEAD FIRE DEPARTMENT - Lowery, Democrat, Will Be First of His Race to Hold That Commissionership - Front Page -". November 24, 1965. 
  15. ^ "We Have Some Planes". National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Retrieved December 3, 2007. 
  16. ^ a b Fritsch, Jane (September 12, 2001). "A Day of Terror – The Response: Rescue Workers Rush In, and Many Do Not Return". New York Times. 
  17. ^ Kevin Baker, "A Fate Worse than Bush: Rudy Giuliani and the Politics of Personality," Harpers, August 2007, p. 37, citing Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers (Times Books, 2002)
  18. ^ Dean E. Murphy (September 17, 2001). "Honoring the Rescuers". New York Times. 
  19. ^ Kevin Flynn, Jim Dwyer (November 9, 2002). "Fire Department Tape Reveals No Awareness of Imminent Doom". New York Times. Retrieved September 13, 2008.  mirror
  20. ^ Michael Daly (August 11, 2002). "His brave voice resounds". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 13, 2008.  mirror
  21. ^ Mai Tran (January 3, 2003). "A Week in West for 9/11 Firefighter Families". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 28, 2008.  mirror
  22. ^ Kevin Flynn and Jim Dwyer (August 3, 2002). "FIRE DEPT. LAPSES ON 9/11 ARE CITED". New York Times. 
  23. ^ "The Great Northeast Blackout of 2003" (POWERPOINT). Deputy Assistant Chief John Norman, FDNY. Retrieved December 3, 2007. [dead link]
  24. ^ Michelson, Noah (October 3, 2011). "NYC Fire Department Hires First Transgender Firefighter". Huffington Post. 
  25. ^ Harrington, Elizabeth. "Federal Judge Imposes Racial Quota on FDNY, Responding to Minorities Who Failed Entrance Exams". CNS News. Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Daniel Nigro Sworn In As New FDNY Commissioner". CBS Local Media. 2014-06-09. Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
  27. ^ – 1870
  28. ^ NYC Fire Museum – History of the FDNY
  29. ^ "The 11th New York Volunteer Infantry - First Fire Zouaves". 
  30. ^ Mayor of New York Press Release PR- 291-04 November 3, 2004
  31. ^ "FDNY - EMS History". 
  32. ^ Griffiths (2007), pp. 210
  33. ^ "F.D.N.Y. 10 Codes". 
  34. ^ "GMC 2500 Battalion Chief Battalion Chief Conversion". 
  35. ^ "Historic Fireboat Aids in New York City Response and Recovery at World Trade Center". National Park Service. Archived from the original on August 17, 2007. Retrieved November 30, 2007. 
  36. ^ NY Daily News on new fireboats
  37. ^ FDNY Annual Report 2012, p. 7
  38. ^ Donna De La Cruz. "FDNY Union Leaders Surrender After Protest". Retrieved November 30, 2007. 
  39. ^ "EMT and Paramedic Frequently Asked Questions". New York City Fire Department. Retrieved November 30, 2007. 
  40. ^ Report from Engine Co. 82 (Amazon) Accessed: 5/1/2012
  41. ^ Life on The Edge at Rescue 2 Firehouse (Google Books) Accessed:5/1/2012
  42. ^ "Firefighter Career Guide" (PDF). FireTactics. 
  43. ^ "Man Alive: The Bronx is Burning". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved November 30, 2007. 
  44. ^ "". Dennis Smith. Retrieved November 30, 2007. 
  45. ^ "Hook & Ladder 8 - Ghostbusters". August 13, 2014. 
  46. ^ "F.D.N.Y.: Brothers in Battle (1992)". New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2007. 
  47. ^ "FDNY Captain Brian Hickey". New York City Fire Department. Retrieved November 30, 2007. 
  48. ^ "9/11 (2002) TV". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 30, 2007. 
  49. ^ "Denis Leary plays with fire on 'Rescue Me'". August 8, 2006. Retrieved April 12, 2007. 


  • Boucher, Micheal L.; Urbanowicz, Gary R.; Melhan, Fred B., Jr. (2006). The Last Alarm: The History and Tradition of Supreme Sacrifice in the Fire Departments of New York M. T. Publishing, Inc., Evansville, Indiana
  • Costello, Augustine E. (1887). Our Firemen: A History of the New York Fire Departments, Volunteer and Paid. New York, New York: Costello
  • Daly, Charles P. (1871). On the Origin and History of the New York Fire Department. New York, New York: Unknown
  • Dunshee, Kenneth H. (1939). Enjine!~Enjine! Harold Vincent Smith for the Home Insurance Company, New York, New York
  • Dunshee, Kenneth H. (1952) As You Pass By Hastings House Publishers, New York, New York
  • Griffiths, John L. (2007). Fire Department of New York – an Operational Reference. New York, New York: Griffiths.
  • Urbanowicz, Gary R. (2002). Badges of the Bravest: A Pictorial History of Fire Departments in New York City. Turner Publishing, Paducah, KY

External links