Bay Ridge is sounding the alarm over proposed firehouse closings.
More than 100 people gathered outside Engine 242 in a downpour on Monday morning to demand that Mayor Bloomberg shelve his plan to cut between 20 and 62 firehouses to balance the city’s budget.
The city hasn’t identified which firehouses might be cut, but Bay Ridge has three — and all should be off the table, said Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge), who organized the rally in front of the firehouse on Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street.
The chief concern is safety, protesters said. Eliminating firehouses could lengthen response times in situations where an extra minute can mean the difference between life and death.
“The city is playing Russian roulette with taxpayers’ lives,” said Steve Cassidy, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.
Kirk Philippou, the owner of Bay Ridge Eatery around the corner, agreed.
He says that when his customers have had medical emergencies, he has someone call 911, but then he runs down the block to the firehouse himself.
“These guys come way before EMS responds,” Philippou said. “They’re at least a couple of minutes earlier and that counts.
“They’re always busy,” Philippou added. “I don’t see why the city would close it.”
It’s not clear that the city will close Engine 242 — or the other Bay Ridge houses.
FDNY spokesman Jim Long said the protesters were merely responding to “speculation” because “no decisions have been made” about actual firehouses that could be shuttered.
“It could be less than 20 citywide,” Long added. “We just have to wait to see what the final budget restraints are.”
©2010 Community News Group
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