Months ago, Mayor Bloomberg telegraphed his intention to close up to 20 firehouses to help narrow the city’s huge budget gap. He won’t reveal exactly which fire companies are on the chopping block until May 6th. But this morning, elected officials, community leaders and firefighters launched a preemptive strike.
In a rally/press conference at Engine 4 on South Street, they said closing any firehouse is unacceptable. Last year, the South Street Seaport Station was eliminated, but the City Council restored its funding at the last minute. Union officials are expecting Engine 4 will be on the hit list again this year.
The press event included Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley (chair of the Fire & Criminal Justice Committee), District 1 Councilmember Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. They noted that Engine 4 was one of the first companies on the scene of last week’s devastating Chinatown fire. They hastened to add that closing a firehouse just a few blocks away from the World Trade Center site would be unthinkable.
In a recent presentation before Community Board 3, firefighter Adam Lynch noted the mayor is only obligated to give 45 days warning before closing a firehouse. He said the community and the City Council will have to act quickly once the closure list is made public next month. On the Lower East Side/Chinatown, there are five firehouses: Engine 28/East 2nd Street, Engine 15/Pitt Street, Engine 9/Canal Street, Ladder 3/East 13th Street and Engine 5/East 14th Street.
Next month, CB3’s public safety committee will consider passing a resolution in support of keeping all of the firehouses in the neighborhood open.