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Probe: FDNY dispatch system flaws led to kids' deaths in Easter weekend fire

Two 4-year-olds were killed in a fire that

Two 4-year-olds were killed in a fire that tore through a Far Rockaway home and injured three others just before midnight on April 19, 2014, police said. Credit: Charles Eckert

A city investigation released Tuesday criticized the FDNY's "unacceptably flawed" emergency-dispatch system and blamed the "unduly complicated" setup for delaying an ambulance for dying children trapped in an Easter weekend blaze.

More than 20 minutes elapsed before the medics arrived at the fire scene; the "cumbersome" process, worsened by "human error," involved no fewer than seven staff members from three agencies, according to a report from the city's Department of Investigation.

The April 19 blaze killed Aniya Tinglin and Jai'Launi Tinglin, both 4, and half siblings, at the home on Bay 30th Street in Far Rockaway, Queens, according to the NYPD. The cause was a child playing with a cigarette lighter.

As the children were trapped in the home, one dispatcher mistakenly believed another had notified the city's Emergency Medical Service that an ambulance needed to be dispatched. Additionally, one of the dispatchers had a history of mistakes. The computer systems used by the city inhibits communication between the fire and ambulance agencies, necessitating a phone call between them.

There is a long-term plan to modernize the computers, but in the interim the FDNY has streamlined the process to improve information sharing.

Under FDNY protocol, an ambulance is typically not sent until firefighters verify one is needed.

A fire department official said dispatchers cited in the report, who had previously been suspended for 30 days, remain on modified duty.

"Our goal is to do the best job possible on every emergency call we handle, and that's the standard I expect of everyone involved -- including our dispatchers," FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a statement. "We've implemented several procedural changes and are investing in technology to make certain that there's no delay sending ambulances to fires."

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