Crowley says: “The FDNY is the best deal going when it comes to getting bang for your buck."
Council Member Elizabeth Crowley (D-Queens), Chair of the Fire & Criminal Justice Committee, and Council Member Peter Vallone (D-Queens), Chair of the Public Safety Committee, today were joined on the steps of City Hall by Public Advocate Bill De Blasio (D-Brooklyn), Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy and Uniformed Fire Officers Association President Alexander Hagan to make public a comprehensive study by Columbia University and the FDNY that indicates how much money taxpayers will lose by closing even one of the 20 jeopardized fire companies, as proposed by Mayor Bloomberg to balance the City’s budget. Commissioned and approved by the FDNY, the 2009 Columbia University Capstone Project: FDNY Property Saved Indicator concluded the FDNY saves at least $3.1 billion in property damage annually. The operating budget for the Department is only $1.5 billion.
"This study shows that the FDNY is the best deal going when it comes to getting bang for your buck,” said Fire & Criminal Justice Committee Chair Elizabeth Crowley. “As the City negotiates the budget, New Yorkers are getting a two-to-one return on their investment in the fire department. This study calculates that the FDNY saves at least $3.1 billion in property damage alone and if you divide that among the 198 engine companies citywide, each company is responsible for roughly $15.6 million in property saved annually. If we close even one company, who will pick up the slack for the $15.6 million in property damage? If we close 20 fire companies, can we afford the $313 million in property damage? The message is clear: we simply cannot afford to reduce our already overstretched fire protection because fires don’t care about budgets."
“The study now proves – fires do not only burn holes in our buildings but in our City’s budget as well,” said City Public Safety Committee Chair Peter F. Vallone Jr.
"It is precisely in these tough times that our City needs to show what our priorities are,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “The number one responsibility of government is to keep the public safe - period. The current economic environment obliges us to make tough decisions, but that should mean making sacrifices to preserve public safety, instead of jeopardizing it."
Captain Alexander Hagan, President of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said, “The Capstone Study, done in conjunction with six high-ranking Fire Officers, proves to an absolute certainty that closing firehouses is civic insanity. Every engine company is worth far more than 10 times its cost to the citizens of New York City.”
UFA President Steve Cassidy said, "This study clearly illustrates that in addition to New York City Firefighters most important job, saving lives, Firefighters save the taxpayers over $3 billion in property damage annually with our ability to quickly respond to and extinguish fires."
City Comptroller John C. Liu said, “New Yorkers hate budget cuts, but what they hate more are budget cuts while there is waste in government. Especially at a time when our City remains the number one terror target in the world, further efforts should be made to minimize the dismantling of fire companies.”
The study was completed in 2009 by Columbia University graduate students of the School of International and Public Affairs, in close cooperation with high-ranking chiefs of the Fire Department.