2002-06-01 / Letters

Fired Up Over Firehouse

Fired Up Over Firehouse

Dear Editor;

The recent approval to build a combined Fire/EMS station was a huge disappointment to the firefighters and the community that fought so hard to make sure our city officials were aware that both firefighter and public safety would be compromised with firehouse relocation to the 48th Street site. Putting a firehouse on this site was a poor choice operationally as response times for all of the Rockaway peninsula west of 58th Street will increase unnecessarily for the two 58th Street fire companies and the 47th Battalion Chief.

This move to 48th Street will increase the distance between the single Engine Company on 92nd Street and the Engine and Ladder Companies to their east and thus increase the risk to firefighter safety and reduce the effectiveness of that single Engine by moving its back-up units further away. The message to our city leaders was clear and simple to understand so we hoped public safety would be made the priority and common sense would prevail.

  The process was flawed from the beginning because only the applicant (city) was able to present its case to the community board to move such an important city facility. While the EMS personnel were provided with blue prints, the firefighters were told no combination station was planned. The firefighters would have contributed important opinions on response patterns so safety wouldn't have been compromised but we were prevented from being part of this important process. We have worked hard to correct these mistakes but unfortunately we couldn't change the minds of people who obviously decided this issue before the city council hearing started.

  The community of Rockaway, represented by Councilman Addabbo, should be very proud of his efforts during this process and he did all he could to try to get his colleagues to listen to reason. How do you reason with a person that implies racism on a group of firefighters he doesn't know and believes that moving a firehouse a 1/2 mile away will incur only a 3 second response time change? I wish I could say Councilman Sanders was as helpful for his constituents, but he chose to stay neutral when this community needed him the most. He seemed fixated on having a "state of the art" Fire/EMS station in his district and didn't seem to want to take a chance of pushing it away. I would just like to say that whether the firehouse is new or old, it s really just a garage. Our training and our trucks need to be "state of the art". The only impact a firehouse has on saving lives is in its location.

JOHN OLSEN

FDNY LADDER 121


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