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For Immediate Release: February 20, 2011

Firefighter Union Says Flatbush, Brooklyn Inferno which Left 100 New Yorkers Homeless, 1 Dead is Latest Example of Bloomberg Public Safety Cut Boondoggle

In the wake of the tragic Flatbush Inferno (at 346 East 29th Street, Brooklyn) which left one civilian dead, injured at least 6-civilians, 50 firefighters and fire officers, 19 of those with burns and left 100 New Yorkers homeless, UFA president Steve Cassidy said, "It is very clear that the reduction of manpower forced on the FDNY by Mayor Bloomberg 19 days ago impeded how firefighters were able to respond to this fire. Due to reduced FDNY staffing there were serious delays in getting water on this fire."

"The severity of this inferno and the damage it has left is clearly the result of Mayor Bloomberg reducing the number of firefighters on engine companies. It is clear the result would have been different if the mayor did not cut staffing on engine companies," he said.

The fire started on the 4th floor of the building and spread to the 5th, 6th and 7th floors as firefighters were slowed by the mayor's recent staff cuts as well as extreme weather conditions.

Three of the first six arriving engine companies (Engine 255, E-249, E-283) were among those who had their staffing level reduced from 5 firefighters down to 4 less than three weeks ago. In a 4-firefighter engine company there are only 3-firefighters to stretch a hose line, as one position is the chauffer/motor pump operator responsible for outside operations guaranteeing water is consistently delivered to firefighters inside the burning building. Due to the increased time it takes to begin getting water on a fire, it allows the fire to grow exponentially approximately every minute.

The FDNY's own studies, conducted by now retired Chief Vincent Dunn show that it takes twice as long for a 4-firefighter engine company to begin getting water on a fire as compared to a 5-firefighter engine company, which would have 4-firefighters on a hose line, plus the chauffer/motor pump operator.

In Saturday's Flatbush Inferno with heavy fire on floors 4-7, one firefighter operating on the 4th floor was forced to evacuate out a window - rescued by a ladder company bucket - but not before sustaining burns to his face and ears. Members of Ladder 147 had to also evacuate out a window to a fire escape, while a captain was forced to transmit a dreaded mayday call when the apartment where his company was searching for trapped victims was engulfed in flames.

"The mayor found $1.8 billion for a failed PSAC 911 emergency dispatch system and $800 million for the City Time keeping system, which the Administration is currently under investigation for, yet he is endangering the lives of New York City Firefighters and the public they serve."

Firefighters were taken to Cornell, Kings County and Maimonides Medical Centers.