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911 Supervisor, Three Dispatchers Suspended Over Deadly Queens Fire

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TWC News: 911 Supervisor, Three Dispatchers Suspended Over Deadly Queens Fire
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Four 911 call center employees have been suspended without pay for 30 days following a preliminary investigation into the Far Rockaway fire that left two four-year-olds dead last weekend.

A preliminary report on the timeline of events was released Friday by the city's Department of Investigation.

The department has been looking into how ambulances were dispatched to the Far Rockaway neighborhood at the time of the blaze.

Firefighters say they arrived within minutes of a 911 call, but officials say an ambulance was not dispatched as soon as flames were reported.

A call center supervisor and three fire alarm dispatchers have been suspended for 30 days without pay, the maximum suspension available.

Jai'Launi and Aniya Tinglin died of smoke inhalation after flames broke out just before midnight Saturday.

A union representing EMTs defended the response time, even as Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials demand a review.

The union representing fire alarm dispatchers offered their condolences to the victims' families, but says it's too soon to assign blame.

In a statement they added, "While a full investigation is warranted and remains ongoing in this case, this is not the time to place blame for a system-wide failure on four individuals. Every day our members diligently respond to thousands of emergency calls that save countless lives and that fact should not be ignored in the face of this tragedy."

Meantime, two separate wakes will be held for the children on Monday.

Family members who attended a candlelight vigil Friday night refused to comment on the DOI memo sent to fire officials. However, neighbors and elected officials expressed dismay at the slow response.

"An outrage that will not let us rest until justice is done for these little children," said State Senator James Sanders of Queens.

"Action should have been taken way sooner if there were issues prior to this one. Two children were still lost at the end of the day so you know, it's hard," said Shakeea White, a neighbor.

According to the memo, two members of the six person team at the Queens Center of Operations were not in their assigned positions before the fire, and some of the dispatchers had prior disciplinary issues.

The DOI also said the fire department is not compliant with industry standards for training supervisors.

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