UrbaNerd: Where NYC’s Fires Were in 2017

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Alexander Baxevanis

The New York City Fire Department responded to 41,000 fires in calendar year 2017.

 

One night last summer my family and I were driving back to our neighborhood when we saw a thick, black plume of smoke spreading across the sky. It was coming from about two blocks south of our house. The streets were clogged with emergency vehicles, their lights flashing, and sirens sounded as additional equipment rolled in. It seemed like the whole block was on fire. In fact, it was just one house.

The next day the property was tidily boarded up. The impact on the neighborhood was minimal—same as the previous summer, when a fire chewed up a decent part of my neighbor’s back room, or that fall, when my teenage son had to call 911 because our oven caught fire. Two much more serious house fires on surrounding blocks in the previous five years didn’t seem to have much effect either, beyond their impact on the families who lived at those addresses. Those blazes did blanket the neighborhood in smoke and leave charred remains behind, but they were nothing like the Halloween 2009 fire that wiped out 10 stores on our major commercial strip, Bainbridge Avenue, nor the arson fire a few months later that zapped a diner, bank and supermarket.

The point is, fire is not as big a force in the city as it was 40 years ago, but it is still a factor in the life of neighborhoods and families. It can still cause stunning tragedy and mass displacement. It can still shape the trajectory of individual families, and sometimes of blocks or neighborhoods.

OpenData NYC offers an incident-by-incident account of every fire incident in the city over the past several years. Below is a look at which community districts saw the most incidents, and what kinds of incidents caused the most action.

Where were the fires in 2017?
Click on a community district to see how many fire incidents were recorded there.

Where were the most fires in 2017?
Community districts, ranked
 

Community District Neighborhoods Number of fire incidents
Queens Community Board 12 Jamaica/Hollis 1,295
Manhattan Community Board 5 Midtown 1,020
Brooklyn Community Board 18 Flatlands/Canarsie 1,006
Brooklyn Community Board 1 Greenpoint/Williamsburg 969
Brooklyn Community Board 3 Bedford Stuyvesant 960
Manhattan Community Board 3 Lower East Side/Chinatown 940
Manhattan Community Board 11 East Harlem 934
Staten Island Community Board 1 St. George/Stapleton 923
Brooklyn Community Board 5 East New York/Starrett City 905
Queens Community Board 13 Queens Village 885
Manhattan Community Board 10 Central Harlem 870
Brooklyn Community Board 12 Borough Park 853
Brooklyn Community Board 17 East Flatbush 833
Bronx Community Board 12 Williamsbridge/Baychester 818
Brooklyn Community Board 2 Fort Greene/Brooklyn Heights 814
Bronx Community Board 5 Fordham/University Heights 794
Manhattan Community Board 12 Washington Heights/Inwood 764
Bronx Community Board 1 Mott Haven/Melrose 759
Manhattan Community Board 7 Upper West Side 758
Queens Community Board 7 Flushing/Whitestone 755
Bronx Community Board 4 Highbridge/Concourse 726
Brooklyn Community Board 14 Flatbush/Midwood 726
Bronx Community Board 9 Parkchester/Soundview 714
Manhattan Community Board 4 Clinton/Chelsea 697
Queens Community Board 1 Astoria 690
Manhattan Community Board 8 Upper East Side 678
Brooklyn Community Board 16 Brownsville 666
Bronx Community Board 3 Morrisania/Crotona 658
Bronx Community Board 7 Kingsbridge Heights/Bedford 634
Brooklyn Community Board 15 Sheepshead Bay 634
Staten Island Community Board 3 Tottenville/Great Kills 634
Staten Island Community Board 2 South Beach/Willowbrook 620
Manhattan Community Board 6 Stuyvesant Town/Turtle Bay 592
Bronx Community Board 10 Throgs Neck/Co-op City 581
Brooklyn Community Board 6 Park Slope/Carroll Gardens 579
Queens Community Board 14 Rockaway/Broad Channel 579
Bronx Community Board 6 Belmont/East Tremont 572
Brooklyn Community Board 4 Bushwick 569
Manhattan Community Board 9 Morningside Heights/Hamilton 561
Brooklyn Community Board 9 South Crown Heights/Lefferts Gardens 559
Brooklyn Community Board 8 Crown Heights/Prospect Heights 556
Manhattan Community Board 2 Greenwich Village/Soho 548
Queens Community Board 8 Hillcrest/Fresh Meadows 527
Bronx Community Board 11 Morris Park/Bronxdale 480
Queens Community Board 5 Ridgewood/Maspeth 453
Queens Community Board 10 South Ozone Park/Howard Beach 448
Brooklyn Community Board 10 Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights 441
Brooklyn Community Board 13 Coney Island 430
Manhattan Community Board 1 Financial District 429
Brooklyn Community Board 11 Bensonhurst 428
Queens Community Board 9 Kew Gardens/Woodhaven 426
Queens Community Board 3 Jackson Heights 406
Bronx Community Board 8 Riverdale/Fieldston 390
Brooklyn Community Board 7 Sunset Park 387
Bronx Community Board 2 Hunts Point/Longwood 383
Queens Community Board 2 Woodside/Sunnyside 383
Queens Community Board 11 Bayside/Little Neck 365
Queens Community Board 4 Elmhurst/Corona 353
Queens Community Board 6 Rego Park/Forest Hills 325

 

What were the fires in 2017?
Incident types, ranked
(Per the FDNY’s manual, class A multiple dwellings mean buildings housing three or more families in which residency is permanent in nature, and class B multiple dwelling are “occupied transiently.”)
 

Incident type Number of incidents
Multiple Dwelling ‘A’ – Food on the stove fire 8,849
Private Dwelling Fire 6,856
Demolition Debris or Rubbish Fire 6,529
Multiple Dwelling ‘A’ – Other fire 4,236
Other Commercial Building Fire 2,875
Automobile Fire 1,827
Manhole Fire – Seeping Smoke 1,745
Multiple Dwelling ‘B’ Fire 1,546
Transit System – NonStructural 1,368
Manhole Fire – Other 1,174
Brush Fire 1,169
School Fire 607
Hospital Fire 387
Multiple Dwelling ‘A’ – Compactor fire 372
Store Fire 291
Manhole Fire – Blown Cover 248
Other Transportation Fire 206
Other Public Building Fire 156
Church Fire 134
Abandoned Derelict Vehicle Fire 59
Construction or Demolition Building Fire 51
Untenanted Building Fire 46
Transit System – Structural 36
Factory Fire 35
Theater or TV Studio Fire 25
Undefined Nonstructural Fire 4
Manhole Fire – Extended to Building 2

 

3 thoughts on “UrbaNerd: Where NYC’s Fires Were in 2017

  1. This is very interesting data. I was somewhat puzzled by a difference in the data on the map and the table listing the Community Boards with the most fires.
    If you click on the map for Community Board #4 (Elmhurst/Corona) 353 fire incidents are reported for 2017. However the table lists 1,295 fires in Community Board 4 in 2017. Is it possible that the table is for a longer period of time ?

    • You had every right to be puzzled. The data in the chart got misordered somehow. It’s been corrected now. Thanks for catching.

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