Elected Officials, Community Rally To Save Fire Companies
Councilmember Elizabeth S. Crowley, along with state Senator Joe Addabbo Jr., Assemblymembers Mike Miller and Rory Lancman, Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy, Uniformed Fire Officers Association board members, community leaders, residents of Richmond Hill and Woodhaven and students from P.S. 273, rallied to oppose Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed cut to 20 fire companies throughout New York City.
“For the third year in a row, the Bloomberg Administration has put our FDNY companies on the chopping block,” said Crowley. “Fewer fire companies mean longer response times, more property damage and more lives lost. It simply doesn’t make sense to cut companies when our first responders are responding to more fires and more emergencies than any time in their history. I will fight to make sure the mayor does not close a single fire company. I would like to thank UFA President Steve Cassidy, UFOA President Al Hagan and all my colleagues in the City Council for their support on this issue.”
New York’s bravest respond to a wide range of emergencies from fires, explosions, gas leaks, building collapses, scaffold rescues, serious vehicle accidents and extractions and terror threats. New York City firefighters are also trained as the city’s first line of defense responding to chemical, radiological, biological and nuclear threats (CRBN), in addition to being the first responded on the scene to all medical emergencies.
“Once again the mayor is threatening to close firehouses and is literally playing with fire,” said Addabbo. “When you play with fire you get hurt. People should not be subject to the mayor playing with fire.”
This year, Bloomberg has proposed cutting 20 fire companies to close the city’s budget gap. The city council has restored funds to the FDNY in each of the past three years to keep fire companies open. Engine 294 was on the 2011 list of companies slated for closure. The fight to save Engine 294 is not new to the Richmond Hill and Woodhaven communities. The company was closed in 1975 and again in 1991 only to be opened after a fire took the lives of two Richmond Hill brothers.
“We seem to have the same fight every year,” said Miller. “Each year Mayor Bloomberg wants to tell us that we are spending too much money on our education, too much money on our quality of life, and too much money on our safety. How much money is too much? Is the cost of keeping a firehouse open really too much? If we cut this firehouse, or any others like it, you are making people living in, or around, wood houses wait extra time. That extra time can lead to unnecessary damage and death. These cuts weren’t needed last year, they aren’t needed today, and they won’t be needed next year, because you know we will undoubtedly be back out here defending the same firehouse a year from now. I am happy to stand here today with my colleagues in government and with the FDNY to say no to these unnecessary cuts.”
The Administration still has not released the list of specific fire companies set for closure. They will have to present the list to the city council 45 days before closing any fire companies. The city’s budget must be passed by June 31.