From the NY Times:
City officials and union representatives testifying at a City Council hearing on Thursday presented divergent evaluations of a firefighter dispatching system that was instituted in May.
The new system, referred to as unified call-taking, is meant to streamline the way firefighters are sent out on runs, but it has quickly become the subject of some controversy. Fire union officials say it sometimes provides firefighters with incomplete or inaccurate information, even as the city has credited the new system with helping to cut response times to historic lows.
“It saves valuable time,” Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler told the council members. “That is unassailable, in my opinion.”
But Capt. Alexander Hagan, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association union, called reports of lower response time “statistical trickery,” adding, “The people were not getting a faster response time. They were getting a snow job.”
Mr. Skyler repeatedly told the council members that limiting emergency calls to one call taker was faster and more efficient. But some council members asked whether 911 operators, trained primarily in responding to crimes rather than fires, might take longer to elicit information that could benefit firefighters.
And fire union officials asserted that response times were being calculated in a misleading way. They said such calculations before the new system began included the time that fire dispatchers spent on the phone questioning callers. Now, the times do not include the period that 911 dispatchers are making similar queries, union officials said.