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Thread: 8 Firefighting Units Face Elimination

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    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    8 Firefighting Units Face Elimination

    8 Firefighting Units Face Elimination
    Some see cuts as pressure tactic by mayor

    By Glenn Thrush
    STAFF WRITER; Staff writer William Murphy contributed to this story.

    April 8, 2003


    The Bloomberg administration has begun to officially notify communities that eight firefighting units around the city will be eliminated to help balance the budget.

    The announcement by Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday ratcheted up the budget battle yet another notch as the fiscal year draws toward its end on June 30.

    The elimination of the eight units would save an estimated $10.8 million annually, but the possibility of shutting down firehouses after Sept. 11, 2001 has been a flashpoint, with some questioning the wisdom of the mayor's proposed cuts.

    Some fire union officials think their members are being used to scare the state and federal government into giving the city more budget aid.

    And Stephen Cassidy, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said he thinks the proposed cuts in fire service are being used to intimidate other agencies to cut more.

    The plan calls for closing six firehouses and eliminating two companies, Fire Department spokesman Francis Gribbon said yesterday.

    The department is also slated to lose 150 civilian employees, including clerks and truck mechanics, city officials said.

    The proposed closings need to be approved in next year's budget, which will be negotiated with city council leaders over the next several weeks.

    Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan) said he was "deeply disappointed" by the move and would push a plan to cut the department's expenses, including private sponsorships of some units, improved revenue collections on union contracts and reduction of non-uniformed employees.

    Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn), whose district is served by two of the firehouses, said Bloomberg's decision to close five firehouses in his borough was "disproportionate and unfair."

    The units facing elimination are Engine Companies 261 and 293 in Queens; Engine Companies 204, 209, 212 and 278 and Squad 252, all in Brooklyn; and Engine Company 36 in Harlem, according to city officials.

    Staff writer William Murphy contributed to this story.
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    Panel Puts Eight FDNY Firehouses on Chopping Block

    Updated: 04-06-2003 11:08:51 PM

    Panel Puts Eight FDNY Firehouses on Chopping Block
    Residents, Firefighters Urge Mayor to Save Stations
    ............
    STEPHANIE GASKELL
    Reprinted with Permission, New York Post

    NEW YORK -- Neighborhood residents and firefighters are urging Mayor Bloomberg to save eight firehouses from getting the ax - despite a panel's recent decision to support the move.

    "The panel's decision is not the last word," said City Councilman Bill de Blasio (D-Brooklyn), whose district is home to two of the eight firehouses slated to close.

    "We hope the mayor will hear the voices of the community, which will only grow louder now. In fact, you ain't seen nothing yet."

    A rally is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today outside Engine Co. 252 in Bushwick.

    The firehouses have been on the chopping block for some time as Bloomberg struggles to close a $3.4 billion budget gap. The closings would save the city nearly $12 million.

    Bloomberg had stalled a decision until a blue-ribbon panel could study other options.

    But Thursday night, the seven-member panel voted 5-2 to recommend shutting down all eight firehouses. It's not clear when Bloomberg will make a final decision.

    "It's really up to the mayor at this point," said Bobby Brunone, a 21-year veteran at threatened Engine 36 in Harlem.

    "I don't want to criticize the mayor, but they should look to make cuts from the bottom up. All other avenues should be explored."

    Last month, the City Council came up with several proposals to save the firehouses. One plan included allowing corporations to sponsor firehouses, something Bloomberg rejected.

    However, just last week, Bloomberg announced a plan to trademark a New York City logo in order to raise revenue.

    "All of a sudden it's a brilliant idea?" said Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. "Where does that money go? It should go to the Fire Department so we can prevent these closings."

    Many residents said they fear cuts will make the city more vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

    "I'm not sure the timing is the best," said Michael Soubotin, an architect who lives in Greenpoint, just a few blocks from Engine 212, one of the eight on the chopping block.

    But Brunone said responding to everyday calls is just as vital.

    "Everybody always goes back to 9/11 and terrorism, but there were needs before then," he said. "It's our everyday work that's important. The war and terrorism just makes it more of a reason [to keep them open]."

    Michelle Coles, another Greenpoint resident, said, "Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Pataki both need to start looking at the importance of the Fire Department and the Police Department. That is what really makes the city run."

    Some residents said they think the billionaire mayor should fork over the $12 million himself to save the firehouses.

    "Why not?" said Lucy Rodriguez, of Brooklyn. "If he donates his money to other things, why not the firemen?"

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...4&sectionId=46

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