FDNY Tries Data-Driven Approach

by Jeff Coltin
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FDNY Truck

(vincent desjardin), flickr

NYC hopes to improve building inspections and firefighter safety,

New York City saw only 58 fire-related deaths last year. That's the lowest number since record keeping began in 1916 - and the FDNY wants to keep it that way.  

Wednesday city officials announced a new system that gives firefighters more data on buildings before they go in to fight a blaze.

Mayor Bloomberg said firefighting's a risky job, but this could help.

"When a firefighter gets to a site and has got to go into a building, the more they know about the building, the better they'll be able to do their job and the safer they will be. Asking somebody to go into a building and not knowing is putting them at an uncessary risk."

A new "Risk-Based Inspection System" will also help firefighters prioritize building inspections. The FDNY does thousands of building inspections each year, but there hasn't been much logic behind the order in which they're done.

The new system compiles data to give a "risk score" based on factors like age, materials, and inspection history that prioritizes which buildings need inspection the most.

Mayor Bloomberg said it should cut down on building fires.

"We know that our firefighters are always going to have to go out, put their lives on the line," Bloomberg said. "But the less we can ask them to do that, the better off everybody is because they want to get back to their families safe like the rest of us want to do."

The first-of-its-kind system has been in development since 2009.

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