The New York City Fire Department in 2014 responded to 519,798 incidents with an average response time of 4 minutes, 41 seconds, with 26,531 of those incidents being structural fires and 231,122 of those incidents were medical emergencies. The total number of serious incidents handled by the New York City Fire Department in 2014 was 2,504.
The New York City Fire Department serves a population of just over 8 million people covering over 300 square miles. Firefighting in New York started in 1648, after the Dutch settlement known as New Amsterdam passed the first fire ordinance. Fines were levied for unkempt chimneys which were fire hazards, with the money being used for hooks, ladders and water buckets. The fire early detection system in 1648 was a group of citizens known as prowlers, who roamed the city at night with buckets and letters watching for fire.
Organized firefighting did not happen until 1731 when fire brigades were established. In 1737 the city of New York established a volunteer fire department. Volunteer firefighters protected New York until after the Civil War, when a paid fire department was created. At first, the paid fire fighters only served Manhattan. It was not until 1898 when all of New York was protected by paid firefighters. As of November 2015, the New York City Fire Department is headed by the Fire Commissioner, and currently employs 11,400 firefighters.