Press Releases

For Immediate Release: April 19, 2010

Brooklyn & Queens Firefighters Rally With Elected Leaders to Save Firehouses

Video of the April 19th, 2010 Rally

Leaders from the Uniformed Firefighters Association joined by Congresswoman Nydia D. Velazquez, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, City Council Criminal Justice Committee Chair Elizabeth Crowley, Council Members Erik Dilan, Diana Reyna, Daniel Halloran and firefighters from both sides of the Brooklyn Queens border turned out on April 19 at Engine Company 271/Ladder 124 to speak out against budget cuts and firehouse closures.

The Mayor has threatened to close at least 20 fire companies and as many as 60 fire companies on July 1, 2010, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

UFA President Steve Cassidy said, "New York City Firefighters have responded to more emergencies in the last five years than at any other time in the history of the FDNY. Closing firehouses, especially at the levels proposed by the mayor would make it virtually impossible to provide protections at the level New Yorkers expect."

He added, "New Yorkers on both sides of the Brooklyn Queens border are entitled to the best fire and emergency medical protection for their families and their property. We are here today to tell residents that in order to keep the emergency protection they have, they must join in the fight to keep their local firehouse open. Firehouse closures will mean a dramatic increase in the time it takes to get a fire truck or an ambulance to an emergency and as result, civilians and firefighters will die."

Congresswoman Velazquez said, "We are to say that this is a matter of death and life and no single person should be put at risk. And I ask the Mayor of New York to reconsider this ill-advised option. We have to protect human lives and we must again this year protect this engine company and those throughout New York City."

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said "Fire protection ranks among the most important responsibility government has to provide for it's residents. Any chance or possibility of a reduction of service cannot be accepted by any of us here or any of the residents in our community."

During 2009 Engine Company 271 was one of a number of neighborhood firehouses closed at night under a policy enacted by former Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta.

"Fires don't care about budgets," said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley (D-Queens), Chair of the Fire and Criminal Justice Committee and whose district is served by Fire Engine 271. "To close fire companies at a time when our fire services are responding to more fire than ever before is simply irresponsible.

On March 18, 2009 while Engine 271 was closed a 3-alarm fire destroyed three homes and several neighborhood stores. A week later, March 25, 2009, firefighters from Engine 271 and Ladder 124 which was open that evening rescued residents from a burning building at 376 Palmetto Street. They had to first rip down child proof window guards blocking the windows before beginning rescue efforts.

Crowley continued, "We remember last year's 3-alarm fire that occurred during the night time closures of Engine 271 which destroyed three homes and several local stores. If 271 had been in operation that night, the response time would have been cut in half and many of those family's might still have their homes and businesses. While Engine 271 was on the chopping block last year, we must fight to protect it again this year. Too many lives depend on Engine 271 and to close this company or any company in this City would violate our responsibilities to our tax-paying New Yorkers."

City Council Member Erik Dilan (D- Brooklyn) said, "Engine 271 carries out over 1,000 emergency operations a year, with a large bulk of these operations medical related. The Engine greatly reduces the emergency response time to ailing victims in my district. Engine closures would create a great deficit in providing safety to Bushwick's residents. It is not a viable option for my district."

Council Member Diana Reyna (D- Brooklyn/ Queens) said, "Fire Engine 271 is a first responder and means the difference between a house and a block burning down. This is an example of an inadequate measure to these tough economic times; we mustn't rationalize putting the lives of our constituents in jeopardy by cutting this vital emergency service. We must act strategically to prioritize and protect the funding that allows these brave men and women of the Fire Department of New York City to continue to serve our residents with the quality and excellence they have come to expect."

Council Member Daniel Halloran (R- Queens) said, "So I ask the State to re-examine it's budget, but more importantly I ask the Mayor to sit down, to look hard and fast at these problems and say not on the backs of public safety. We'll find the cuts somewhere else."