Fire sale! Bloomy plots closure of eight Bklyn companies

Fire sale! Bloomy plots closure of eight Bklyn companies
Photo by Stefano Giovannini


Eight fire companies in Brooklyn — 40 percent of the proposed 20 citywide closures — could flame out under a controversial plan by the Bloomberg Administration to save $55 million.

Of course, the city has been through these kinds of budgetary Kabuki dances before — times when administrations have proposed Draconian cuts which are followed by predictable protests and magical “restorations” of funding at the last minute.

But restorations aren’t certain.

Indeed, in 2003, six firehouses were shuttered — though Brooklyn still has the fastest response times in the city, according to the Bloomberg Administration.

But opponents say that this time, more closures would be disastrous.

“The city needs to seek alternatives to saving money that don’t put people’s lives in jeopardy,” said Chris Olechowski, the chairman of Community Board 1 in Williamsburg, where three fire companies could close.

Here’s a look at how your neighborhood could be affected:

Dyker Heights

Engine 284

1157 79th St.

Engine 284 is the one of three fire units in the nearly century-old 79th Street firehouse between 11th and 12th avenues that would be closed.

According to estimates, average response times in the tony enclave — a mix of million-dollar mansions and brick semi-attached houses — will jump 32 seconds, to 4:12 seconds, if Engine 284 is closed.

Anything above four minutes is problematic, according to the National Fire Protection Association, which estimates that most fires spread to adjacent rooms if they’re not stanched within that amount of time.

The firehouse was once home to area legend Joseph Graffagnino, who died battling a seven-alarm blaze at the former Deutsche Bank building in Manhattan in 2007.

The city considers Engine 284 one of the less-active units; firefighters assigned there go on a more than 650 calls a year — a third of which are medical emergencies.

But those calls may soon increase.

According to the 2010 census, there are more than 10,000 people living within a mile of the firehouse, with some streets seeing population explosions ranging between seven to 17 percent.

Picking up the slack will be Engine 247, located less than a mile away on on 60th Street and 13th Avenue.

— Thomas Tracy

Coney Island

Ladder 161

2929 W. Eighth St.

Located a couple of blocks from the amusement district and across the street from 20 high-rise apartment buildings, Ladder 161 has an average response time of 4:39.

If the company is shuttered, add 40 seconds to that.

The proposed closure would also affect other area properties, including Boardwalk businesses, the 60th Precinct stationhouse next door, PS 100 on W. Third Street, the Sea Breeze Jewish Center on Sea Breeze Avenue and two strip malls.

Ladder 161 responds to an average of 1,877 calls per year, making it one of the less-active companies, according to the FDNY.

At least two other ladder companies are nearby: Ladder 166 on Neptune Avenue between W. 25th and W. 26th streets, about 18 blocks away, and Ladder 169 on East 11th Street near Blake Court, about 15 blocks away.

— Alex Rush

Park Slope

Engine 220

530 11th St.

Engine 220 embarks on 1,880 runs a year, but that’s comparatively low citywide. The company, between Seventh and Eighth avenues, serves south Park Slope and Windsor Terrace — an area that’s seen a five-percent population jump since 2000 — and is just a few blocks from New York Methodist Hospital, PS 107, the Pavilion cinema (don’t yell fire inside there when its crowded!) and barbecue areas inside Prospect Park. Engine 220 is the firehouse of Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, who warned that “more lives will be lost” if the cuts come to pass. DeBlasio, arrested in 2004 for protesting an engine company closing in Cobble Hill, said he’s prepared for handcuffs again “if that’s what it takes.”

If the station gets the ax, response times would increase by 30 seconds to 4:08, according to city estimates. Engine 239 — located nine blocks away on Fourth Avenue at Sixth Street — will serve the tony parkside communities. Pols and area celebrities including “Reservoir Dogs” actor Steve “Mr. Pink” Buscemi were set to protest outside the firehouse on Wednesday.

— Natalie O’Neill

Brooklyn Heights

Engine 205

74 Middagh St.

The demise of Engine 205 would raise response time by 52 seconds to 4:20 in an area bursting with new residents and families, city estimates contend.

The firehouse, near Henry Street, is around the corner from PS 8 and near the Promenade, Brooklyn Bridge Park, along with restaurants and churches.

The company — one of the first to dispatch firefighters to the World Trade Center during the 9-11 attacks — responds to calls in Brooklyn Heights, Downtown and DUMBO, which has seen a massive population boom since 2000.

It shares its Middagh Street facility with Ladder 118, and averages 1,603 calls per year. If its firefighters are relocated, Engine 224 on Hicks Street and Engine 207 and Ladder 110 on Tillary and Gold streets — the Tillary Tigers — will carry the burden.

— Kate Briquelet


Ladder 104

161 S. Second St.

Engine 206

1201 Grand St.

Engine 218

650 Hart St.

The trio of companies is among the least active in the city —but that’s no solace to a neighborhood still bitter over the closure of Engine 212 eight years ago.

The most likely to shut down is East Williamsburg’s Engine

206, nestled in an industrial peninsula abutting Newtown Creek near beer distributors and lumber yards.

It ranks 195th of 198 engine companies in total runs, making only an average of 1,102 calls in a three-year period, and if it were to close, response times would rise only 28 seconds, from 4:01 to 4:29.

But response times in Williamsburg’s diversifying south side could rise 51 seconds, from 3:45 to 4:36, if Ladder 104 is shuttered.

And if Engine 218 is closed, response times in Bushwick could jump by 15 seconds, from 3:16 to 3:31.

Census records show communities near the stations have been growing steadily over the past decade: The population near Engine 218 rose 60 percent; a census tract near Engine 206 jumped 55 percent; and the tract containing Ladder 104 increased six percent.

Engine 216 on Union Street would likely cover emergency calls on Williamsburg’s south side while Engine 237 on

Morgan Avenue would pick up the hose in East Williamsburg and southwest Bushwick.

— Aaron Short

Firefighter Thomas Balukas of Engine Company 284 in Dyker Heights holds the ax — a slightly different version of the ax that Mayor Bloomberg is wielding over his and seven other Brooklyn companies.
Photo by Steve Solomonson