The New York City Fire Department swore in its new fire commissioner on the same day the department announced a record low fatality rate and faster response times.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered the oath of office Monday to Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano during a ceremony in downtown Brooklyn.
Cassano inherits a department that a new report shows cut its response time to an average of four minutes and two seconds in 2009. That's down by about 23 seconds from 2008. There were also fewer fires last year.
"Since accurate record-keeping began back in 1916, there has never been an eight-year period with fewer fire deaths than during the 2002 through 2009 period," Bloomberg said.
The city credits the improved response time to its new dispatch protocol and the introduction of a new Unified Call Taking system in which a NYPD operator takes down all the vital information and via computer sends it to FDNY dispatchers.
The system has been criticized by the firefighters union, which says the city's response times are not being reported correctly.
NY1 has reached out to the union for reaction.