Lawmakers Vehemently Oppose Fire Company Closings
The list, released by FDNY officials on May 18, includes four Queens fire companies in neighborhoods scattered across the borough:
•Ladder 128, 33-51 Greenpoint Ave., Sunnyside
•Engine 306, 40-18 214th Pl., Bayside
•Engine 294, 101-20 Jamaica Ave., Richmond Hill
•Engine 328, 16-19 Central Ave., Far Rockaway
Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who chairs the City Council Fire Safety Committee, warned the Bloomberg administration that closing the fire companies would endanger the lives of people living and working in the targeted neighborhoods.
“If the city moves forward with any of these closures, people who could have been saved will die,” Crowley declared. “Closing even one fire company would jeopardize [the] lives of New Yorkers.”
Fire officials released the list of 20 fire companies citywide, that were placed on the chopping block because of budget cuts. Administration sources said the list is tentative and some of the units could be saved if the city finds additional money to close the budget gap. Units on the list were selected by an FDNY analysis that included the number of calls they receive, response times and the proximity of other fire companies.
“The city will not be closing any firehouses,” administration sources said. “We are simply proposing to shrink the FDNY by taking companies off-line.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the cuts would save the city up to $55 million.
“[Mayor] Bloomberg has willfully abdicated responsibility for protecting the safety of New Yorkers with his proposal to close 20 fire companies,” Fire Union President Steve Cassidy said.
“The mayor’s list of the 20 targeted company closings illustrates how every corner of this city will be impacted,” Crowley said. “This is unacceptable.”
Saving the companies is a tall order, city council sources exclaimed. Bloomberg usually gives the council $300 million to restore cuts to city services included in his annual budget, the sources said. Restoring the 20 companies alone would cost the city $55 million.
Neighbors on one block in Bayside, covered by Engine 306, last weekend were fuming over the proposed cuts.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio stated, “If the mayor succeeds in cutting these companies, some communities won’t meet the response times needed.”
Bloomberg last closed six fire companies in 2003, including Engine Company 268 in Long Island City. State Senator Michael Gianaris declared, “Long Island City continues to grow and is in need of more fire protection services, not less. The mayor must reconsider and keep Ladder 128 open.”
Assemblymember Edward Braunstein claimed, “The closure of Engine 306 would increase the first arrival response time [of other firehouses] to over six minutes, which is the third worst time of all the proposed closures.”
“I guess Bloomberg doesn’t care if we burn,” an angry homeowner told the Gazette. “He’s on his way out anyway, so he obviously doesn’t give a damn if we go up in flames.”