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4 FDNY dispatchers suspended for ambulance delay in fatal fire

Two dispatchers were not in their assigned positions, and a supervisor failed to ensure coverage; two children died as ambulances took 21 minutes to get to the scene

NEW YORK — Three dispatchers and a dispatch supervisor were suspended for 30 days without pay following an investigation as to why ambulances were not immediately dispatched to a fire that killed two children on April 19.

Two of the six-person team staffed that night “were not in their assigned positions just prior to this incident,” according to the New York Times

A memorandum from the fire department said there were three dispatchers handling calls related to the fire, and the supervising dispatcher “failed to ensure proper coverage and failed to appropriately supervise.”

It did not identify any of the workers.

The timeline

The first fire call came in at 11:51 p.m., and firefighters responded, Newsday reports.

At 11:57 p.m., firefighters radioed for an ambulance response, but dispatchers missed the multiple requests. They did not alert EMS until 12:04 a.m., nearly seven minutes after the call. Ambulances arrived eight minutes later at 12:12 a.m., according to Israel Miranda, EMS union president. In total, it was a delay of 21 minutes from the time the first fire call went out.  

 “The notification to EMS was not promptly made,” the memo said. It also noted personnel records show the three dispatchers and supervisor had previous disciplinary action for other “mishandling of fire incidents,” and the commend center had “a history of operation weakness, which appears to have contributed to this incident.”

Investigators believe the fire likely started when one of the children that died in the blaze was playing with a lighter in the basement, and it ignited the bed on which the children’s grandfather slept.

Firefighters at the scene were yelling for EMS, and performed CPR on the children. Jai’Launi Tinglin and his half-sister Aniya, both 4, died. His twin sister and the grandfather were seriously injured.

"Today's report offers the first steps needed to correct the mistakes of that evening, and the immediate measures outlined are appropriate," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement Friday. "We await the final results of the completed investigation, and stand ready to quickly and aggressively implement reforms needed to prevent something like this from happening again."

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