Record of 154,788 Responses Reported by New York F.D.
A record 154,788 calls for assistance were handled by the New York Fire Department during 1966, according to the annual report made by Commissioner Robert O. Lowery. During the year, 16 fire fighters lost their lives in the performance of duty. A fire in a complex of buildings on 23rd Street took the lives of 12 of these firemen. It was “the greatest catastrophe suffered by the department since its inception more than 100 years ago,” Lowery stated.
The responses included 90,290 fires, of which 36,800 were in buildings. There were 27,084 runs for emergency situations not involving fire and 37,414 false alarms. To combat the steadily increasing number of false alarms, a long-range program based on gaining the support and understanding of the public was instituted. A community relations bureau was established to gain the support of neighborhood groups in developing and implementing projects designed to reduce the number of fires, emergencies and false alarms. The bureau was also charged with informing the public about the plans and goals of the department.
There were 423 multiple alarms in 1966, which included 283 second alarms, 90 third alarms, 36 fourth alarms and 14 fifth alarms. The five causes of 70 percent of the building fires were, in order of frequency, smoking carelessness, cooking carelessness, mischievous acts of children, electrical defects and fuel oil burners.
Fire marshals arrested an unprecedented number of 378 persons on arson charges as a result of investigating 792 suspicious and 818 incendiary fires. Convictions were obtained in 286 cases.