Could Mayor's Deep Cuts Put Lives at Risk?

Nighttime fire station closures proposed

By Andrew Siff and John Noel
|  Friday, Nov 19, 2010  |  Updated 6:43 AM EDT
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Fire stations could close at night

Fire stations could close at night

In an effort to close a $1.6 billion budget gap, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is calling for massive cuts in just about every city agency.

But it is what he is proposing for the fire department that is sparking the most outrage.

The Mayor's plan is to close 20 firehouses across the city from 6 p.m. until 9 a.m. every day.

No decision has been made about which firehouses will be affected.

Arno Ahmed, manager of Portabella men's shop in Bushwick, Brooklyn, worries about what will happen if nearby Engine 271 shuts down at night. "My customers need to feel safe," he said. "I need to feel safe."

And Carline, a Brooklyn mom getting ready to tuck in her daughters at their Gates Avenue home, said the idea of no fire engine down the block is unsettling. "It's not gonna be safe for the kids, or the parents. It's not gonna be safe."

The FDNY Commissioner says the closings will be decided by determining where they will have the least impact on the neighborhood.

But Commissioner Salvatore Cassano admits, "If we close 20 companies at night, naturally our response times are going to increase."

And critics say the consequences could be deadly.

"What's going to happen is that somebody is going to get killed and then this administration will realize they made a mistake," says Steve Cassidy, head of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

Other proposed cuts include: 6,000 teaching positions, 350 NYPD civilian spots, and 200 Sanitation Department supervisor jobs.

Responding to critics of his proposed cuts, Mayor Bloomberg told reporters, "Nobody should think they're going to be easy choices. The bottom line is we don't have the money."

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