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Thread: Mayor Saves 2 Fire Houses

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    Mayor Saves 2 Fire Houses

    MAYOR SAVES 2 FIRE HOUSES

    By FRANKIE EDOZIEN and DAN KADISON


    May 20, 2003 -- Two of the eight firehouses slated to shut down were saved yesterday by Mayor Bloomberg, who said state tax money will help keep them open.

    Firehouses used by Engine 293 in Woodhaven, Queens and Squad 252 in Bushwick, Brooklyn will stay open, Bloomberg said.

    "The response times in the area served by Engine 293 would have risen above the citywide average, something we would like to avoid," Bloomberg said.

    "By keeping Squad 252 in Brooklyn, we are able to maintain the borough's [hazardous materials] capabilities," he added.

    If Squad 252's firehouse closed, the company was to move to Manhattan and take over the quarters of Engine 44 on the Upper East Side, which would have been abolished.

    Firefighters in Squad 252 and Engine 293 were pleased by the news.

    "We think it's great," said an Engine 293 firefighter. "We would like to see all companies spared, but it's great for all the people in Woodhaven."

    "We are ecstatic, not for the community but for everybody," said a firefighter in Squad 252.

    But six firehouses are still on the chopping block. Four are in Brooklyn: Engine 204 in Cobble Hill; Engine 209 in Bedford-Stuyvesant; Engine 212 in Greenpoint, and Engine 278 in Sunset Park.

    Also slated to close are Engine 261 in Long Island City, Queens, and Engine 36 in Harlem. The city's original plan to close eight firehouses was meant to save $12 million. It was unclear last night how much would be saved by closing just six.

    The Uniformed Firefighters Association welcomed the news - but said the six remaining firehouses on Bloomberg's hit list should also be spared.

    "Any plan to close firehouses and reduce manning will endanger the lives of innocent civilians and firefighters," said UFA spokesman Tom Butler - who noted the city received several hundred million dollars more from Albany than it requested.

    City Council member Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn), chairwoman of the Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee, also welcomed Bloomberg's decision - but said none of the firehouses should close.

    "I think it's a step in the right direction," Clarke said. But I still believe that there is a case to be made to keep all eight open."

    People in the communities surrounding the threatened firehouses have lobbied council members and held rallies to support the firefighters.

    Hundreds opposed to the closings attended a rally yesterday in Battery Park City that featured a concert by Sammy Hagar.

    One woman showed up at City Hall Park every day for weeks with a sign urging the administration to reconsider the closing plan.



    http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/76163.htm

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    Mayor Spares 2 Threatened Firehouses After All

    Mayor Spares 2 Threatened Firehouses After All
    By MICHAEL COOPER


    After the State Legislature passed a New York City aid package yesterday over the veto of Gov. George E. Pataki, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg reversed course and said that the city would be able to save two of the eight city firehouses that were scheduled to close.

    The mayor's turnaround came after he and his aides insisted for months that the closing of the firehouses was politically difficult, but necessary, and that the firehouses would have to be closed even if Albany came up with the help they sought.

    It came after he had already fought off entreaties from the City Council, which wanted to keep the firehouses open, and an ad campaign by the unions representing firefighters.

    But last night, the mayor reversed course, issuing a written statement saying that he would spare two firehouses "because of the assistance we have gotten today from Albany, and in the interests of exercising the maximum caution allowable."

    The firehouses he spared were Engine 293 in Woodhaven, Queens, and Squad 252 in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Six more firehouses

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    Spared the Budget Ax

    Spared the Budget Ax
    2 firehouses will stay open

    By Glenn Thrush and Dan Janison
    STAFF WRITERS

    May 20, 2003


    Mayor Michael Bloomberg staged a last-minute rescue of two firehouses in Queens and Brooklyn that were to close this week - just hours before a Brooklyn judge was due to hear a lawsuit to stop the closings.

    Engine 293 in Woodhaven and Squad 252 in Bushwick will be kept open because emergency response times in their areas would have risen "above the citywide average," said Bloomberg's press secretary Ed Skyler.

    Six other firehouses in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan remain on the chopping block.

    "We're just totally elated," said Capt. Tony Tricarico, commander of Squad 252, which lost six men in the Sept. 11 terror attack. "The guys who died, their spirits are here, their families come here to be at peace. It would have been sacrilegious to let it go."

    Bloomberg said Albany's budget bailout freed up the $2.7 million for the restorations; the remaining closings will save the city about $8 million.

    Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), whose district includes Engine 293, said he would remain a plaintiff in the lawsuit to be heard in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn today. He urged Bloomberg to keep all the firehouses open until the case is decided.

    "Two have been saved; now we have to work on the other six," Addabbo said. "I think there will be a lot of conjecture about the timing of the mayor's decision, coming as it did, right before the hearing. But I'll leave that to other people."

    Sixteen community leaders and elected officials sued the city last week, arguing that the mayor decided to close the firehouses without sufficient community comment or an environmental review.

    Bloomberg's sudden reversal could bolster their case, said Councilman Bill de Blasio (D-Park Slope), whose district includes Engine 204.

    "It's going to have an impact with the court because it's thrown in doubt the whole process by which the decisions were made," he said.

    Skyler said Bloomberg might consider closing both firehouses again if the he can't extract $600 million in concessions from municipal unions or if the city's economy doesn't improve.

    "If either or both of these don't assist us to the extent necessary we will have to revisit the issues of asset deployment," Skyler said in a statement.

    Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Woodside), whose district includes Engine 161, which is still due to close, led a candlelight vigil Sunday and said more protests were on the way.

    "It is a bad idea, one of the worst ever to come out of City Hall," he said. "I pray that I am wrong, but I am afraid that lives will be put at risk."

    The decision came as a business-funded budget group called yesterday for charging city employees - including firefighters - for their health insurance and offering future employees cheaper pensions.

    The Citizens Budget Commission said compensating firefighters costs more than any other employee: $125,169 per year, including $74,393 average salary and $50,776 in fringe benefits, mostly pensions.

    "Growth in pay represents a relatively small part of the growth in overall compensation," for city workers, the CBC said, a rise slightly faster than inflation at 14.6 percent from 2000 to 2004.

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