For Immediate Release: June 3, 2011
Over 15,000 Rally to Stop Fire Company Closures
Over 15,000 New Yorkers gathered today at New York City Hall to protest Mike Bloomberg's proposal to close 20 fire companies across the City of New York. Led by FDNY union leaders, more than 800 New Yorkers also marched across the Brooklyn Bridge carrying protest signs and chanting before joining the rally against Fire Company closures.
More than 60 prominent leaders from throughout the five boroughs addressed the crowd. They included elected and union officials, standing along side community leaders. Among leading speaker quotes:
Denis Hughes, President of the New York State AFL-CIO: "The proposed closing of firehouses is short sighted, ill conceived political rhetoric at its worst. How can we consider ourselves a progressive, enlightened society when we find ourselves here today having to defend the basic necessity of providing health and safety protections for all New Yorkers? Closing firehouses will not only threaten the public safety of all New Yorkers today, but will have serious repercussions for years to come. The present, as well as the future fabric of this city at stake."
Harold Schaitberger, International Association of Fire Fighters President (IAFF): "I'm sick and tired of politicians like Mayor Bloomberg who want to praise the work of the FDNY one day, who want to call them heroes and thank them for their bravery, then turn around and slash the resources it takes to protect New Yorkers day in and day out. I'm sick and tired of Billionaire Bloomberg, with his $18 billion in personal wealth, deciding that it's okay to make life and death cuts to the FDNY for New York's 8 million people. It's just wrong."
Steve Cassidy, President Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA): "Even closing one neighborhood firehouse endangers communities. Closing 20 fire companies would cause a collapse of the FDNY emergency response grid. In today's world of terrorism, an ineffective fire department is unthinkable after the attacks on the World Trade Center"
Captain Alexander (Al) Hagan, President Uniformed Fire Officer Association (UFOA): "Mayor Bloomberg wants to give New York City a smaller, cheaper, slower Fire Department. He wants to close 20 fire companies and cut another 500 firefighters. None of the companies on the chopping block are close to where he and his wealthy friends live. But if you live in the Outer Boroughs---simply stated--- he doesn't care if you and your loved ones live or die."
Elizabeth Crowley, Queens City Council Member (30th District), Chair of the Fire & Criminal Justice Committee: "Tough fiscal times should force government to get its priorities straight--and the burning truth is, fires don't care about budgets. To close even one Fire Company anywhere in this city would be irresponsible, costly and potentially deadly."
Bill Thompson, New York City's 42nd Comptroller, "While we all recognize that New York City has budgetary constraints, we must never put dollars above the lives and safety of New Yorkers and our communities. Firefighters are the first responders in any non-criminal emergencies in our city, including medical emergencies, fires, building collapses and we need to maintain that as a basic and necessary service that our city provides."
Joel Rivera, Bronx City Councilmember (15th District): "Fires devastate and destroy people's lives. A faster response time saves lives and property. People lives should not be quantified. The closing of our firehouse is detrimental to our community that may cost us more lives due to lengthened response times. We should be finding innovative ways to save money but closing firehouses is not innovative."
The New York State Conservative Party also expressed its support for firehouses when it stated:" The safety of New York's citizens must be the priority of its government. Closing firehouses endangers the lives of the very people who pay taxes expecting government to provide safety to its citizens. New York City's citizens ought to have their safety as the first priority when any budget is considered. Fiscal responsibility means taking care of the people's safety first, firehouses and police, must be the very last possible place to cut resources. Governments' first priority must always be its citizens. Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council must acknowledge this very basic fact."