Firefighters from departments across the country are arriving to fires later each year, and barely over a third of calls nationwide meet national standards for response time, according to an analysis by The Boston Globe.

Nationwide, only 35 percent of departments were able to meet the six-minute goal in 2002, compared to 75 percent in 1986, when alarm times first began to be collected.

"Fire protection in America is a myth," said Vincent Dunn, a retired New York City Deputy fire chief and author of books on fire safety.

"These two subjects are the dirty little secrets of the fire service: The response times outside the center cities are too great, and the personnel responding, inside and outside the center cities, are too few. No one wants to talk about that."
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