2017-06-28 / Front Page

Call To Reactivate FDNY Engine Co. 261 In Dutch Kills

BY LIZ GOFF


New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer with members of Ladder 
Photo courtesy FDNY Ladder Co. 116 New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer with members of Ladder Photo courtesy FDNY Ladder Co. 116 Neighbors, local lawmakers, union officials and local leaders gathered outside a Dutch Kills firehouse on June 23, to send a wake up call to FDNY and city officials to reactivate FDNY Engine Co. 261.

The engine company located at the firehouse at 37-20 29th St. in Long Island City served the community for more than a decade, until May 2003, when budget cuts under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg forced its shutdown.

Ladder Co. 116, which had shared the firehouse with Engine Co. 261, remains in service at the 29th Street house. Firefighters, aka “truckees” assigned to the Ladder Company force entry, search for victims and ventilate burning buildings. The firefighters also perform rescues, and provide medical assistance at fires and in other emergency situations.

“All of a sudden, we were left with nothing but a prayer if we needed a local engine company to pour water on a fire,” Dutch Kills Civic Association President George Stamatiades said. “Fourteen years is far too long to wait for adequate fire protection. The Dutch Kills community has come of age and we need the fire protection that is justified by our residential growth. We stand here today as a united community calling for the reactivation of Engine Co. 261.”


Attending a rally to reopen FDNY Engine Company 261 were (front, l. to r.); George Stamatiades, President of the Dutch Kills Civic Association; Florence Koulouris, District Manager, Community Board 1; NYC Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer; Gerard Fitzgerald, President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. 
Photo Courtesy of the Office of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer Attending a rally to reopen FDNY Engine Company 261 were (front, l. to r.); George Stamatiades, President of the Dutch Kills Civic Association; Florence Koulouris, District Manager, Community Board 1; NYC Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer; Gerard Fitzgerald, President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. Photo Courtesy of the Office of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer The firehouse is located within walking distance of two of the largest public housing communities, Kaufman Astoria Studios, the Museum of the Moving Image and at least seven schools and numerous houses of worship.


NYS Senator Michael Gianaris (c.), Dutch Kills Civic Association President George Stamatiades and NYC Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (both at l.) and the President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association Gerard Fitzgerald (r.). 
Photos Courtesy FDNY Ladder Co. 116 NYS Senator Michael Gianaris (c.), Dutch Kills Civic Association President George Stamatiades and NYC Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (both at l.) and the President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association Gerard Fitzgerald (r.). Photos Courtesy FDNY Ladder Co. 116 “Engine Co. 261 gave comfort to the people of this neighborhood for over a century,” City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer said. “Today we call for it to be reopened so that our city’s brave firefighters can once again provide life saving help to the rapidly growing population in Long Island City and Dutch Kills.”

Additionally, the President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association Gerard Fitzgerald, told onlookers, “Firehouses are vital to our communities. Engine Co. 261 should be reopened today as it provides a much-needed level of safety and protection to a booming Long Island City population.”

“This neighborhood is among the fastest growing in the city, and it needs more services,” said Gianaris. “We shouldn’t wait until tragedies occur before providing the necessary resources to prevent them.”

“As the Long Island City community continues to grow and expand, our communities need more fire protection with the growing number of high rise apartments and the continued presence of industry side by side with hi-rise hotels and condos,” said Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan in a statement. “Reopening Engine Company 261 would be a step in the right direction in providing additional services which would increase the safety and security of the growing population in our community.”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) also released a statement calling for the city to reopen Engine 261: “There is nothing more important to me than ensuring the health and safety of the people I’m privileged to represent. “I am concerned that while the population of Long Island City has been growing, the facilities needed to keep these residents safe have not been keeping pace. That is why I am calling for the Engine 261 Firehouse to be reopened. When the Engine was closed in May of 2003, there was an immediate and dramatic effect on average response times in our area, and in an emergency situation every second counts. That is why I am joining the rally cry to reopen the Engine 261 Firehouse. We must do all we can to keep our citizens safe.”

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, head of the Council’s Fire Safety Committee, Community Board 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris, representatives from Assemblywomen Cathy Nolan and Aravella Simotas’s offices were also among those on hand at the rally.

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