Starting next week, the New York City Fire Department is set to reduce the number of fire units that respond to certain types of emergencies with lights flashing and sirens blaring. The three-month pilot program, known as "Modified Response," will be tested at fire companies all over Queens.
"The history of the department's response with the lights and sirens is that firefighters are responding to a serious emergency," says Uniformed Firefighters Association President Stephen Cassidy. "Until somebody actually gets there, it is difficult to determine the extent of that emergency."
FDNY officials say not all emergencies require the same response. They are testing to see the impact of reducing the use of lights and sirens for the second and third engine companies heading to emergency calls that are not fires, like a gas leak or a stuck elevator.
The first responding unit will still respond with lights and sirens, but those that follow will do so at a reduced speed.
The FDNY believes the program will lead to fewer accidents and less noise.
The firefighters' union, however, says the plan is confusing and could lead to more accidents, not fewer.
The NY Times has an in-depth article.