Updated 06/04/2010 11:05 PM
FDNY Revisits Planned Fire House Closures
In the face of budget cuts, the New York City Fire Department said at a City Council hearing on Friday that it is revising its list of planned fire house closures. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
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Twenty fire companies around the city are slated to close due to budget cuts, but exactly which ones remains unclear.
Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano insisted at a city council hearing Friday that his department is still working on it.
"We were prepared on May 17, we were still finalizing the list that morning and then when we were told not to send the list out," he said.
Fire officials were told not to by City Hall, which said it was still hoping for aid from Albany. However, there is still no state budget.
On Friday, Cassano promised to deliver a list in the next two weeks, news that didn't sit well with council members, who said they deserve to know which neighborhoods will be affected.
"We continue to look at it. what we thought we might have to do later that day we were told not to. So we continue to analyze. Every day we're analyzing," said Cassano.
Closing 20 fire companies would save some $40 million. FDNY officials have also proposed reducing staffing in 60 engine companies from five firefighters to four, to save $17 million.
To do that, the FDNY must reach an agreement with the firefighters' union.
Cassano said Friday he did not think safety would be compromised, but Uniformed Firefighters Association President Stephen Cassidy said that is not true.
"Without having a roof man or an [outside vent man] to vent a building, people's lives will be clearly lost, firefighters will be in danger, and he shuffled it off like it means nothing," said Cassidy. "His 40 years of experience -- it was shocking what he said today."
Last year, when budget cuts threatened to close 16 fire companies, the City Council was able to restore funding to keep those companies open.
This year, City Council members said it is the mayor's turn to spare the FDNY from the budget ax:
"That restoration was the will of the council at that time, and if anybody thinks that we're going to have to come back year after year and have this same discussion, we will if we have to, but it should be off the table," said Bronx Councilman James Vacca.
The City Council vowed to fight the cuts and do whatever it can to keep fire companies open.