City Council member Elizabeth Crowley, along with approximately 200 elected officials, firefighters and citizens gathered outside Ladder Company 116 in Long Island City, Queens on Friday morning to rally against Mayor Bloomberg’s budget proposal that would shut down up to 20 fire companies citywide.
Following the announcement yesterday at the City Council Budget Briefing that the Police Department’s cuts would be restored, Council Member Crowley urged Bloomberg to reconsider the fate of these firehouses.
Yet the plan is slated to continue -- closing 20 fire companies in order to save $37.4 million and reducing personnel by 400 to save an additional $7.9 million.
“New Yorkers deserve to know that this budget will keep them safe – and that includes keeping our fire companies open,” said Crowley. “Whether it’s rapidly responding to fires and medical emergencies, building collapses and most importantly, in this context, terrorist attacks, our fire companies are always among the first to respond and should not be cut.
It has not been specified which fire companies will be closed, but a few factors give some clue to which ones could be in jeopardy.
According to Crowley’s communications director Meredith Burak, the targeted companies are those with the fewest runs, like Ladder 53 in the Bronx, Engine 151 in Staten Island, and Engine 271 in Ridgewood, and those with the highest concentration of surrounding companies, like Ladder 4 in lower Manhattan.
After the closing of its counterpart engine company in 2003, Ladder 116 has become the second busiest ladder company in Queens.
"Our firehouses are the first line of defense in our communities,” said Council Member Van Bramer, who represents the area where Ladder 116 is located. “An economic downturn is no excuse to cut these vital resources from our neighborhoods. Enough is enough.
Bloomberg’s plan is set to close the fire companies on July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year. Since the City Charter mandates that Council Members of districts suffering closures receive a 45-day notice, the Fire Department must disclosed the companies they plan to shut down by May 17.