Our days and nights on the hustings with Steve Buscemi

By Natalie O’Neill and Kate Briquelet

You know him as Mr. Pink — but in Brooklyn, Steve Buscemi is Mr. Fireman.

The actor — famous for his role in the cult classic “Reservoir Dogs” — spent most of Thursday in the far-different role of community activist, urging the city to drop its plan to close eight firehouses in Brooklyn.

The indie flick king and Park Slope resident — who was a fireman himself in the early 1980s — showed up at a morning rally at Engine 205 in Brooklyn Heights and then at an evening rally at Park Slope’s Engine 220, both slated to be closed under Mayor Bloomberg’s budget.

“Firehouses are symbols of safety in our neighborhoods,” he said. “Closing them is no way to protect New York.”

On 11th Street in Park Slope, Buscemi donned a red fire department shirt, and posed for photographs with fans and shook hands with firefighters while maneuvering a scrum of print and television reporters. He also mingled with Councilman Steve Levin (D–Park Slope) and Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene).

Just as he did earlier at Engine 205 on Middagh Street — where one first-grader read a letter declaring the mayor “made a big mistake!” — the “Boardwalk Empire” star encouraged hundreds of sign-waving protesters to call 311 to complain about the closures, which would delay fire response times by 30 and 52 seconds in Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights, respectively.

The morning rally was staged in the street under a hot sun that did not deter state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights) and Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D–Carroll Gardens) from sharing the spotlight with Buscemi.

The protests come eight years after the actor was arrested for protesting an earlier round of firehouse closings. The arrest hasn’t changed his opinion about New York’s Bravest.

“Every time a firefighter walks through those doors,” he said, gesturing towards the firehouse. “They put their lives on the line — they deserve our support.”

Councilman Steve Levin and Buscemi discussed the closure.
Community Newspaper Group / Kate Briquelet