FDNY & union fire away

A Brooklyn car dealership became the latest battlefield in a war of words between firefighters and City Hall over plans to close six firehouses.

After an electrical fire broke out at the auto lot on 65th St. early yesterday, the two sides offered differing accounts of the role played by crews from a Sunset Park firehouse slated for closing.

The Uniformed Firefighters Association said firefighters from Engine Co. 201 in Bay Ridge "were rescued from death by electrocution" by colleagues from Engine 278, whose home base is on the chopping block.

"If Engine 278 hadn't arrived, they'd be dead," union spokesman Thomas Butler said. "If this happened Monday, we'd be looking at the first four casualties of Mayor Bloomberg's budget cuts."

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta acknowledged that four firefighters from Engine 201 suffered electrical shocks while dousing the fire. But although he lauded their efforts, he emphasized that none suffered burns and all got out on their own.

"The firefighters were not rescued, nor is there any report of a rescue at this incident," Scoppetta said.

He also said at least five other FDNY units were on the scene and that they were quickly joined by four more.

Two of the injured from Engine 201 were being treated at Staten Island University Hospital, and the other two were treated at Brooklyn's Lutheran Medical Center and released.

Alice McQuillan

Originally published on May 23, 2003