City Council Fire & Criminal Justice Chair Elizabeth Crowley (D-Queens), NYC Public Advocate Bill De Blasio (D-Brooklyn), U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner (D-Queens), State Senator Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens), Council Members Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) and Karen Koslowitz (D-Queens), Assembly Member Mike Miller (D-Queens) along with local firefighters, community and religious leaders, parents, teachers and students from P.S. 254 marched from Woodhaven’s Fire Engine 293 to Richmond Hill’s Fire Engine 294 in support of keeping local fire companies open. Today’s march concluded with a rally at the Richmond Hill Engine 294 which was closed in January 1991 by the then Mayor David Dinkins only to be reopened days after due to a delay in response times to a nearby fire that resulted in the death of two brothers. At Engine 294 elected officials, firefighters and citizens blasted Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to close 20 fire companies and reduce FDNY personnel by 400 fewer firefighters in order to balance the budget.
City Council Fire & Criminal Justice Chair Elizabeth Crowley said, "The Administration found $200 million within the executive budget to maintain our security initiatives -- and this should include the FDNY. If we close fire companies, I certainly will not feel secure. Fires don’t care about budgets. We have only one choice when it comes to New Yorker’s safety -- and that is to deliver. Closing fire houses is not the answer to New York's fiscal problems.”
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said, "Even in times of economic constraints, the safety of New Yorkers must remain a first priority. The Fire Department can't execute this cut without affecting firefighters' response time in some neighborhoods. We cannot lose sight of our priorities, and I am committed to working with the Administration to restore these cuts so that our neighborhoods are not put in peril."
State Senator Joseph Addabbo said, "Our firehouses serve as the first line of defense for residents of this great city. Losing these firehouses would increase response time and put countless citizens in danger. I want to thank Councilwoman Crowley and my fellow elected officials who are working to ensure that this does not happen."
Assembly Member Mike Miller said, "Fire houses provide a life saving service for our community. Making cuts to these essential services is outrageous. In April of this year, it took the FDNY 4 minutes and 20 seconds to respond to fires throughout Queens. Cutting our local fire houses here in Woodhaven will increase this number substantially. Most of the houses in this neighborhood are wood-framed houses, making every second of response time critically important. If the fire department in Cypress Hills is responding to a blaze in Woodhaven, it leaves the residents of both neighborhoods in danger. Closing one fire house creates a domino effect that negatively affects all of our communities. I stand with Council Member Crowley in fighting these cuts every step of the way."
Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association said, "The last five years have been the busiest in the 145 year history of the FDNY. This shows that residents depend more on the FDNY than ever before. It is a fact that closing fire companies or reducing manpower threatens the safety of civilians and firefighters alike."
Mr. Cassidy added, "Above and beyond the vital day-to-day role firefighters play in the community, the response to the terrorist attack in Times Square is another reminder of how critically important it is to get firefighters to the scene of an emergency quickly. The Time Square terrorist attack was the 11th plot or attempt to attack our city since 9/11, clearly showing that New York City is the #1 terrorist target. Closing firehouses or reducing staffing levels is dangerous for all communities throughout New York City.""