New York City Fire Department Bureau of EMS

Fire Department of New York Bureau of Emergency Medical Services
"New York's Best"[1]
Agency overview
Established March 17, 1996 (1996-03-17)
Annual calls 1,706,324 incidents [2]
Employees 4,414 (as of December 31, 2016) [2]
Staffing Career
EMS level Advanced Life Support (ALS) or Basic Life Support (BLS)
Facilities and equipment
Divisions 8
Ambulances 450[3] (2018)

The New York City Fire Department Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (FDNY EMS) is a division of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) in charge of emergency medical services for New York City. It was established on March 17, 1996, following the merger of the FDNY and New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation's emergency medical services division. FDNY EMS provides coverage of all five boroughs of New York City with ambulances and a variety of specialized response vehicles.


Prior to March 17, 1996, municipal ambulances were operated by NYC EMS under the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, a public benefit corporation, which dispatched both its own ambulances and hospital ambulances. On March 17, 1996, NYC EMS merged with the FDNY, forming the Bureau of EMS. Employees of the newly formed bureau were considered FDNY employees and became eligible for transfer to firefighter within the department. As a result of the merger, the FDNY Bureau of EMS became the largest fire department-based EMS system in the United States.[4]


FDNY EMS is led by the Chief of the Bureau of EMS Lillian Bonsignore. It is broken down into eight divisions. Each division is led by a division chief, up to 5 deputy chiefs, and a division captain. Each division is then broken down further into stations which are led by captains and lieutenants.

FDNY EMS controls the operation of all ambulances in the New York City 911 System. 70% of the ambulances in the 911 system are FDNY EMS municipal units while the remaining 30% of 911 system coverage is provided by hospital-based units known as Voluntary Hospital Ambulances, which are staffed by paid hospital personnel who work in partnership with FDNY EMS. Private ambulance services and Volunteer Ambulance Corps also make their resources available to supplement the 911 system. FDNY EMS maintains and controls Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD), and telemetry (online medical control). FDNY EMS is also responsible for managing emergency medical care for all mass casualty incidents (MCI's) in New York City.


FDNY Haz-Tac Ambulance

The FDNY EMS uses a variety of units:

  • Regular ambulances may be staffed to Basic Life Support (BLS) or Advanced Life Support (ALS) levels.
  • Haz-tac ambulances, also known as Hazardous Material Tactical Units, are ambulances trained to the hazardous materials technician level allowing them to provide emergency medical care and decontamination in a hazardous environment. There are 39 haz-tac ambulance units.
  • Rescue medics are ALS ambulances trained to the level of hazmat technician in addition to rescue technician training and water training. There are 11 units. These paramedics also possess an expanded scope of practice, including rapid sequence intubation, surgical cricothyrotomy, ultrasound, and additional drug formulary.
  • EMS conditions cars are vehicles assigned to EMS lieutenants or captains, the supervisors overseeing the activities of the ambulance crews in their jurisdiction. There is generally one assigned per station.
  • EMS major emergency response vehicles (MERV) are vehicles that are able to treat multiple casualties at the same time, with ALS and BLS functions. The unit seats 14 and has a stretcher, and is assigned to all major medical emergencies within its borough. There is one MERV assigned to Divisions 1, 2 and 5 each. Brooklyn no longer has a MERV, while Queens's MERV was lost to a vehicle fire.
  • EMS medical evacuation transportation units (METU) are medical transports able to transport 24 non-ambulatory patients, 32 seated patients, or 10 wheel chair bound patients in the walkway for transport to area hospitals. There is one METU assigned to Divisions 3, 4 and 5 each. All three were purchased with Department of Homeland Security funds.
  • EMS mobile respiratory treatment units (MRTU) are similar to METUs, and are also able to treat patients for smoke inhalation and other respiratory issues with oxygen, albuterol, and combivent. One MRTU is located in Divisions 1, 2, 3 each. All three were purchased with Department of Homeland Security funds.
  • EMS logistical support units (LSU) carry medical supplies for use in mass-casualty incidents, as well as two generators, lights, a command tent and an inflatable tent.
  • Haz-tac officers are rescue paramedics that respond alongside haz-tac and rescue ambulances as the medical component of the FDNY Special Operations Command. Two of these units can also can function as EMS condition officers when needed.
  • EMS response physicians are emergency physicians with specialized training in hazardous materials, technical rescue, and other specialized prehospital skills such as on-scene limb amputations. The response physician responds to major mass-casualty incidents or as part of the Rescue Medical Task Force for patients requiring technical rescue or prolonged extrication. The vehicle is also known as the Five Mary Car due to the radio designation Car 5M.[5]



Older FDNY Ambulance 492
New FDNY Ford F-450 Ambulances

Immediately after the takeover of NYC EMS the FDNY changed the livery of the existing ambulances by changing the color of the striping on the vehicles to blue and red. The initials FDNY were placed on the vehicle with two letters on both sides of an existing Star of Life, with the word ambulance underneath. The driver's side and passenger side doors were also adorned with the new command patch. Subsequent vehicles were ordered in the traditional FDNY livery of white over red with a set of three stripes (yellow, white, yellow) running down the side. All other markings were kept in place.


The FDNY Bureau of EMS utilizes Type I Ambulances, which are based on the chassis-cabs of light and medium duty pickup-trucks. This type was chosen over the Type II ambulance that are based on a passenger/cargo van chassis and the Type III which are based on chassis-cabs of light duty vans due to the ability to fully customize the passenger compartment. Type I ambulances also offer a higher load-capacity and additional compartment space when compared to the two other types. These ambulances are also more resilient to the stresses placed on them in a high volume EMS system in an inner city environment.

In 2011, the FDNY began ordering ambulances from Wheeled Coach which are based on a Dodge Ram 4500 Crew Cab Chassis. The shift to a four-door ambulance was due to the tremendous call volume and harsh 24/7 cycle that the FDNY operates in. Furthermore, the additional cab space provided for crew comfort, additional storage, and the opportunity to have more than two people riding in the forward-facing configuration thus increasing safety if a third crew member is assigned. The department discontinued orders due to issues with the Dodge chassis.

In 2014, the FDNY began ordering a custom Ford F-450 Super Cab/Wheeled Coach Type I ambulance.

In 2016, the FDNY began ordering a new version of the F-450/Wheeled Coach ambulances which are labeled "FDNY Green". These use a technology to reduce harmful emissions caused by the necessary idling of ambulances.

In 2016, FDNY EMS ordered and received new International Terra-Star/Wheeled Coach Medium Duty Ambulances for use as "Rescue Medic" vehicles.

In 2017, FDNY EMS began using Ford F-550 Super Duty/Wheeled Coach Type I ambulances.

See also


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