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Voltage and microwave photoresponse of NbN thin films to modulated and pulsed optical radiation reveals, far below the superconducting transition, a response time consistent with the lifetime of nonequilibrium quasiparticles. We show that even in 5 nm thick films at 4.2 K the phonon trapping is significant resulting in a quasiparticle lifetime of a few nanoseconds that is an order of magnitude larger than the recombination time. Values and temperature dependence of the quasiparticle lifetime obey the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer theory and are in quantitative agreement with the electron-phonon relaxation rate determined from the resistive response near the superconducting transition. We discuss a positive effect of the phonon trapping on the performance of kinetic inductance detectors.