The New York City Fire Department released to the City Council Wednesday a preliminary list of 20 fire companies that may close to save $55 million in the upcoming city budget.
The draft says that eight of the 20 companies are located in Brooklyn, four are in Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx each have three and two are in Staten Island.
Read the full draft on the fire company closings.
It was no secret that Mayor Michael Bloomberg planned to shut down 20 fire companies, but no one at City Hall had been willing beforehand to say which companies were on the chopping block.
One of the threatened fire companies is Engine Number 4 on South Street in Lower Manhattan, which was one of the first to respond to the September 11th attacks.
Queens Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, the chairwoman of the council's Fire Committee, has been leading the fight to save the companies.
"Today, we are the number one target for terrorists. We cannot afford to close one fire company, let alone the one that is close to the World Trade Center," said Crowley. "Every corner of the City of New York will be impacted. People will lose their lives, and it's unacceptable."
The mayor has also proposed laying off more than 4,000 teachers to balance the budget.
"We have to see at the end what the financial realities are. It would be great if we could have a firehouse or company on every corner, but that's not the real world," Bloomberg said Wednesday.
In reaction to the proposed Brooklyn closings, Borough President Marty Markowitz released a statement that said in part, “I am flabbergasted that eight engine and ladder companies — nearly half of the 20 proposed closures citywide — are in Brooklyn. If there is any serious thought being given to closing these houses, it needs to be extinguished like a three-alarm fire. Just in the last week, Engine 284 in Dyker Heights — one of the companies on the hit list — assisted with an area fire and their quick response no doubt saved lives. I know we are experiencing challenging economic times, but the truth is, in Brooklyn we need the FDNY now more than ever."
Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano warned that response times will go up if the companies are closed.
The most dramatic example listed in the FDNY draft is the closure of Ladder 53 on City Island in the Bronx, which would increase response time from nearly five minutes to nearly 10 minutes.
However, the FDNY claims that Ladder 53 has the lowest workload of every city fire company.
New Yorkers who spoke with NY1 Wednesday said the city has to find a way to keep the fire companies open.
"The money is there. They have to find it," said a New Yorker.
"These houses are over 100 years old, and there [are] a lot of electrical fires that happen," said another. "And there are a lot of single room occupancy with multiple families moving in to the neighborhood. And it is death traps.
On Monday, the firefighters' union and supporting City Council members demonstrated against the cuts on the steps of City Hall. The union claims the cuts will force the FDNY to do more with less resources, even though the last seven years have been the busiest years in FDNY history.
Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy said in part in a statement Wednesday, “Today Mike Bloomberg willfully abdicated responsibility for protecting the safety of New Yorkers with his proposal to close 20 fire companies. 20 closed fire companies will affect at least sixty communities and the city as a whole."
The UFA also claims fire emergencies have increased 16 percent since 2001 and that the FDNY received a record number of alarms in 2010.
Last year, 20 fire companies were going to be closed, but they were saved at the 11th hour with City Council funds. Given the city's grim financial outlook this year, no one on the council seems optimistic they will be able to avert the closures once again.
The 20 Affected Fire Companies
Engine 4 42 South St. Manhattan
Engine 26 220 West 37th St. Manhattan
Ladder 8 14 North Moore St. Manhattan
Engine 46 460 Cross Bronx Expwy. Bronx
Ladder 53 169 Schofield Ave. Bronx
Engine 60 341 East 143rd St. Bronx
Engine 205 74 Middagh St. Brooklyn
Engine 206 1201 Grand St. Brooklyn
Engine 218 650 Hart St. Brooklyn
Engine 220 530 11th St. Brooklyn
Engine 233 25 Rockaway Ave. Brooklyn
Engine 284 1157 79th St. Brooklyn
Ladder 104 161 South 2nd St. Brooklyn
Ladder 161 2929 W 8th St. Brooklyn
Engine 294 101-20 Jamaica Ave. Queens
Engine 306 40-18 214th Place Queens
Engine 328 16-19 Central Ave. Queens
Ladder 128 33-51 Greenpoint Ave. Queens
Engine 157 1573 Castleton Ave. Staten Island
Engine 161 278 McClean Ave. Staten Island