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Thread: 'Reservoir Dog' Snarling Mad At Fire Cuts

  1. #1
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    'Reservoir Dog' Snarling Mad At Fire Cuts



    April 20, 2003 -- A beleaguered Brooklyn firehouse targeted for closure was bolstered by quirky character actor Steve Buscemi - a former FDNY firefighter himself - during a rally yesterday.

    Engine Co. 212 on Wythe Avenue in the Williamsburg section is one of eight fire companies slated to be shuttered as part of dramatic cuts to the city's battered budget.

    The actor joined dozens of neighborhood protesters who marched from Bedford and Metropolitan avenues to the firehouse.

    Chanting and shouting with the others, "Fire cuts kill," Buscemi had bitter words for Mayor Bloomberg.

    "I think it's wrong for any of the firehouses to be closed. It's not like they're saving a significant amount of money by closing them," the "Fargo" and "Reservoir Dogs" star told The Post. "This is the wrong thing to do and the wrong way to go."

    The former member of Engine Co. 55 in Manhattan complained that bureaucrats are boasting that even with the cuts, firefighters will still only lose a minute or so getting to fires.

    "They talk about response time. They say, 'You'd only be losing a minute,' but a minute is a long time when you're trapped in a building and there's smoke and you can't breathe," Buscemi said, adding that FDNY firefighters have made enough sacrifices.

    Stephanie Lee Jackson, 35, an artist who lives in the neighborhood, described the closure as "insane" because many of the houses in the area are wood-frame.

    "It's also insane to close firehouses, especially when we are on a high terrorist alert," she said. "What's Bloomberg thinking?"

    Actor Steve Buscemi is an ex-firefighter.
    - Josh Williams

  2. #2
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    'People's Firehouse' Draws Rally

    'People's Firehouse' Draws Rally
    Actor Buscemi, Others Protest Planned Closing

    By Joshua Robin
    Staff Writer

    April 19, 2003, 5:51 PM EDT

    Engine Company 212 in Williamsburg has been known as "the people's firehouse," ever since a band of locals took it over for 16 months in the mid-1970s to save it from budget cuts.

    Now there is again talk of peaceful insurrection on Wythe Avenue, now that the company is again slated to be closed in the latest fiscal crisis.

    Only this time, some don't think taking over the firehouse will save it from the budgetary guillotine.

    "I don't know if it will be as successful as the last time," said Christopher Swist of Williamsburg, 27, who had two cousins working at the firehouse during the crusade.

    Nevertheless, about 50 people demonstrated Saturday in front of the firehouse to demand the city reconsider shuttering it.

    Several local elected officials joined a boisterous crowd, but the man attracting the most cameras and autograph seekers was actor Steve Buscemi, who years before appearing in "Fargo" and "The Big Lebowsky" fought fires with Little Italy's Engine 55.

    "I think it's a slap in the face, after all that they've done and all that they continue to do," said Buscemi, who worked in the fire department from 1980-1984 before a role in "Parting Glances" (1986) made a commitment to firefighting impossible.

    "They're just starting to come back. This is just terrible -- a terrible message to firefighters because they want to save $10 or $11 million a year."

    Engine 212 -- which has seen its staff dwindle from more than 20 before Sept. 11 to nearly a dozen now -- is one of eight companies citywide facing the chopping block.

    With the city struggling to close a deficit projected at more than $3.4 billion for the fiscal year that begins July 1, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed eliminating the eight companies as part of a plan to cut $40 million from the Fire Department's $1 billion budget.

    The proposed closures would save the city $10.8 million, according to a City Council analysis. Fire officials have said other companies could pick up emergency calls in districts served by the closed companies. They are studying whether the closing would significantly lengthen response times.

    Although the firehouses have not yet been closed, there is little momentum in the City Council to save them. Last week, with the budget crisis only getting worse, Bloomberg presented an even bleaker scenario: At least 30 more fire companies could be axed if state legislative leaders, Washington, and city labor union do not aid the city.

    John Kelly, the Brooklyn delegate from the Uniformed Firefighters Association who was at the rally Saturday, said he understands the city's fiscal crisis -- but complained Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ignored cost-cutting suggestions that could spare the houses, like corporate sponsorship of fire houses.

    Kelly urged callers to flood City Hall, dismissing officials' comments that New Yorkers' safety will not be significantly impacted.

    "People are going to die and people are going to lose their property," Kelly predicted flatly.

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