D.C. City Administrator Elijah B. Rogers said yesterday that an internal District Fire Department report blaming some fire deaths in the city on cost-cutting staffing limitations was "based on incomplete and possibly erroneous data and analysts."
The report, which was disclosed in a Post article on Sunday, said there have been an inordinate number of fire deaths in areas in which five-man fire companies perform double duty as firefighting units and rescue squads.
These areas have four times the number of fire deaths as the citywide average, according to the report, which was prepared by Battalion Chief Robert C. Bingham. Other parts of the city are manned by separate rescue squads.
Rogers said that the report "raises a serious issue," but stated that not enough information is available to determine whether the three combination fire-rescue units, begun in 1977 as an economy measure, are responsible for the large number of deaths.
He said he has directed the fire department and the city's Office of Criminal Justice Plans to perform an extensive study taking into account circumstances of death or injury, condition of firefighting equipment, age of buildings involved, response time, and other factors.
The fire department report said the combined fire-rescue units responded to twice as many calls as other city firefighting companies and were often needed in two locations at the same time.