Human Ecology

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 433–464 | Cite as

Fire service productivity and the New York City fire crisis: 1968–1979

  • Rodrick Wallace


Empirical measures of fire-service quality and efficiency are examined for New York City in the period 1968–1979. Marked decreases in the ability to control and contain structural fires are found to result from a program of fire-service reductions begun in 1972. Exacerbated by the New York City “fiscal crisis” of 1975, decreases in fire-service efficiency since 1972 appear to have initiated a geographically spreading and apparently recurrent fire epidemic. The decreases have accelerated since 1976, implying that recurring epidemic episodes could be more severe than the 1974–1977 crisis, which destroyed large areas in some neighborhoods of the city, including the South Bronx, Bushwick, Brownsville, East New York, East Harlem, and others. The results of an extensive data analysis are contrasted with the methods and conclusions of a widely circulated study entitled Setting Municipal Priorities 1981.

Key words

fire epidemic South Bronx fire-service efficiency 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bailey, N. T. J. (1964).The Elements of Stochastic Processes. Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Bailey, N. T. J. (1975).The Mathematical Theory of Infectious Disease and Its Applications, 2nd Ed. Hafner Press, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Barbour, A. D. (1972). The principal of the diffusion of arbitrary constants,Journal of Applied Probability 9: 519.Google Scholar
  4. Barbour, A. D. (1976). Quasi-stationary distributions in Markov population processes,Advances in Applied Probability 8: 296.Google Scholar
  5. Bartlett, M. S. (1960).Stochastic Population Models of Ecology and Epidemiology, Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  6. Bryant, E., and Atchley, W. (1975).Multivariate Statistical Methods: Within-Group Covariation. Dowden, Hutchinson and Ross, Stroudsburg, Pa.Google Scholar
  7. City Planning Commission (1977). Pupil Mobility 1974–1975, A Demographic Analysis, New York City Planning Commission.Google Scholar
  8. Green, R. H. (1979).Sampling Design and Statistical Methods for Environmental Biologists. Wiley, New York, p. 112.Google Scholar
  9. Hayes, F. (1978). The Neighborhoods of Poverty, An Analysis of the Geographic Distribution of Low Income Persons in New York City. New York City Community Development Agency.Google Scholar
  10. Horton, R., and Brecher, C. (1980).Setting Municipal Priorities 1981. Columbia University Conservation of Human Resources Project, New York.Google Scholar
  11. McNeil, D., and Schach, S. (1973). Central limit analogues for Markov population processes.Jouranl of the Royal Statistical Society B 35:1.Google Scholar
  12. Mega, C. (1978). Recommendations of the Task Force on Urban Fire Protection. Office of the New York State Assembly Republican Leader, April 1978.Google Scholar
  13. Pielou, E. C. (1977).Mathematical Ecology. Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  14. Schumer, C. (1977). Schumer reveals: Fire Department death statistics may be falsified. Statistical analysis demonstrates engine response time figures also doubtful. Press release, September 26, 1977.Google Scholar
  15. UFOA (1976). Testimony by the New York City Uniformed Fire Officers Association before the State Senate Subcommittee on Police and Fire Protection in New York City, John Calandra, Chairman.Google Scholar
  16. Wallace, D. (1981). Population density dependence of structural fire in New York City and its implications (to be published).Google Scholar
  17. Wallace, R. (1978). Contagion and incubation in New York City structural fires, 1964–1976.Human Ecology 6(4): 423.Google Scholar
  18. Wallace, R. (1980). Firefighter Disability Retirements and Structural Fire Workload in New York City 1960–1978: The New York City Fire Epidemic as a Toxic Phenomenon. Special report to the Uniformed Firefighters Association, New York.Google Scholar
  19. Wallace, R., and Wallace, D. (1977).Studies on the Collapse of Fire Service in New York City 1972–1976: The Impact of Pseudoscience in Public Policy. University Press of America, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  20. Wallace, R., and Wallace, D. (1980). Rand-HUD fire models.Management Science 26(4): 418.Google Scholar
  21. Wallace, R., and Wallace, D. (1981a). Urban fire as a parasite: The Bushwick, Brooklyn out-break, 1976–1978 (to be published).Google Scholar
  22. Wallace, R. (1981). The New York City fire crisis: A recurrent epidemic (to be published).Google Scholar
  23. Wallace, R., and Wallace, D. (1981b). Fire service levels in relation to property damage and human injury: The case of Manhattan's Hazard Region 6 (to be published).Google Scholar
  24. White, B. S. (1977). The effects of a rapidly-fluctuating random environment on systems of interacting species.SIAM Journal of Applied Mathematics 32(3): 666.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rodrick Wallace
    • 1
  1. 1.Public Interest Scientific Consulting Service, Inc.New York

Personalised recommendations