NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg this weak heaped praise on the New York City Fire Department, after the department achieved the lowest number of civilian fire deaths in its history.

As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, the city had 58 fire deaths in 2012 — four fewer than the previous record low of 62 set in 2010.

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“Last year, our city recorded the lowest number of fire related deaths – 58 of them – since comprehensive record keeping began back in 1916,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano emphasized the dramatic change in the fire death rate over the years.

“To put it into perspective, my first full year on the job was 1970. We lost 310 people that year,” Cassano said. “Last year, we lost 58.”

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The FDNY also has recorded its fastest average ambulance response time for life-threatening medical emergencies. It’s exactly 6 1/2 minutes — a second faster than in 2011.

The top causes of the city’s fatal fires last year were accidental. Seventeen were electrical fire, 15 were sparked by smoking, 9 were incendiary and 7 were cooking-related.

In 79 percent of 2012’s fatal fires, officials said there was no working smoke detector present.

Cassano called the record low number of fire fatalities a tremendous accomplishment of which everyone in the department should be proud.

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