Updated 12/04/2008 10:56 PM
Scoppetta Announces Overnight Closure Of Four Firehouses
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Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta announced Thursday that four fire companies will be closed overnight to save the city some money.
The companies affected are Engine 271 in Brooklyn, Ladder 53 on City Island, Engine 4 in Lower Manhattan, and Engine 161 on Staten Island.
Each of those fire houses have two units, one of which will be closed at night. The other will remain active 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The three-person firefighting team on Governor's Island will be disbanded completely.
Scoppetta says these changes will save the FDNY $8.9 million.
"This we would like to not have to do, but when we came up short we had to consider this as well," said the commissioner. "We went through weeks of analysis before we recommended this."
Firefighters that work at locations now closing overnight will be reassigned to other firehouses around the five boroughs that are in need. Sources say that on any given night, between 25 and 50 firefighters are needed to cover shifts.
In the past, the firefighters' union has said closing down any firehouse would decrease the medical response and fire protection in that community.
"More fatalities happen at night than any other time of day," said the union in a statement. "Closing companies compromises public safety and threatens civilian and firefighter lives."
The fire commissioner argues that response time is better at night because there is less traffic.
City Island, considered the Bronx's seaport, is losing its only fire company, Ladder 53. There is only one bridge onto the island, and residents are concerned that there will be no firefighters on the island between 6 p.m. to 9 a.m.
“We are an island, we are only a mile-and-a-tenth long,” said Peter La Scala of the City Island Chamber of Commerce. “You cannot do this, we’re isolated.”
Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, who is also a City Island resident, shared such concerns.
"It is absolutely ridiculous to expose 5,000 people, 3,000 homes and more than 220 businesses there on City Island to this sort of danger," said Carrion.
An additional cost-cutting measure includes reducing the size of the January training academy class from 300 to 100 probational firefighters. The training time for this class has also been decreased from 23 weeks to 18 weeks.
The public will have 45 days to comment before these changes take effect on January 17th.