Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg Releases Fire Department Closure List; Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Hardest Hit

After days of stalling over whether a tentative list of closures even existed, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) relented and released the list, and the news isn't good at all.

20 firehouses would be closed, including two in Lower Manhattan and eight in Brooklyn.
Below are the fire companies on the endangered list:

E004 42 South St. Manhattan
E026 220 West 37th St. Manhattan
E046 460 Cross Bronx Expwy. Bronx
E060 341 East 143rd St. Bronx
E157 1573 Castleton Ave. Staten Island
E161 278 McClean Ave. Staten Island
E205 74 Middagh St. Brooklyn
E206 1201 Grand St. Brooklyn
E218 650 Hart St. Brooklyn
E220 530 11th St. Brooklyn
E233 25 Rockaway Ave. Brooklyn
E284 1157 79th St. Brooklyn
E294 101-20 Jamaica Ave. Queens
E306 40-18 214th Place Queens
E328 16-19 Central Ave. Queens
L008 14 North Moore St. Manhattan
L053 169 Schofield Ave. Bronx
L104 161 South 2nd St. Brooklyn
L128 33-51 Greenpoint Ave. Queens
L161 2929 W 8th St. Brooklyn
That's absolutely staggering in its consequences. Not only would response times become that much longer in the affected areas, but the Lower Manhattan closures would directly affect response times to incidents in and around Ground Zero, which remains a top terror target. It's absolutely inconceivable that the Fire Department can't cut management positions to save firehouses or institute other efficiencies rather than hit manpower that directly affects public safety.

Moreover, it reduces the margin of safety when additional alarms are called for emergencies because it means that responding engine and ladder companies have to come from that much further away to provide backup and additional manpower to deal with rapidly changing emergency situations.

I'm hardly alone in my incredulity over the plan proffered by Mayor Bloomberg and his Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz slammed Bloomberg and the FDNY for the Brooklyn closures and their disproportionate impact on Brooklyn (the City's most populous borough):
“I am flabbergasted that eight engine and ladder companies—nearly half of the 20 proposed closures citywide—are in Brooklyn. If there is any serious thought being given to closing these houses, it needs to be extinguished like a three-alarm fire. Just in the last week, Engine 284 in Dyker Heights—one of the companies on the hit list—assisted with an area fire and their quick response no doubt saved lives. I know we are experiencing challenging economic times, but the truth is, in Brooklyn we need the FDNY now more than ever. Brooklyn is growing by leaps and bounds, which means that in the coming years there will be an ever greater need for New York’s Bravest. It is our collective responsibility to ensure maximum safety for all of our residents—and that means no firehouse closings!”
While the City's budget is strained, three areas should not be compromised - fire and police safety and education. Yet, these are areas where Bloomberg is cutting deepest. It's a mistake and it needs to be resolved in a way that doesn't put the public at greater risk.

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