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FDNY Swamped With Non-Emergency Calls

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The New York City fire department commissioner is reminding New Yorkers to only call 911 with life-threatening injuries, as it needs to concentrate its resources on emergencies.

Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano says the department has been slammed with non-emergency calls following Sunday's massive snowstorm.

He says the system is already taxed and that dozens of ambulances and fire trucks have become stuck on the treacherous roads.

"The streets are unpassable," said Cassano. "Our calls really are backed up and we want to make sure we can get the people who need to be transported to the hospital and life-threatening emergencies."

The FDNY says an additional firefighter was added on all 198 engine companies.

A New Jersey EMS task force is also being put together to send 15 ambulances to the city.

According to Pat Bahnken, president of the EMS union, there is about a three-hour wait for responses citywide. Bahnken says there are about 1,300 life-threatening jobs waiting for response.

"We're always concerned about any backlog," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "You can rest assured it is our number one priority."

The Uniformed Firefighters Association says that it asked the city to declare a state of emergency but that the request was denied by the Office of Emergency Management.

The city late Monday said that no union asked the Bloomberg administration to declare a state of emergency.

OEM says it is not up to the agency to make that call and that it must be made by the state and the governor.

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