2009-04-24 / Top Stories

Big House May Lose Engine 328

By Nicholas Briano

After surviving a wave of service reductions late last year, FDNY's local Engine 328 is slated to be eliminated from the three company Big House in Far Rockaway if proposed closures are approved by the FDNY, according to a department list provided to The Wave.

In December, Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta released a list of companies that would close during evening hours and Engine 328 barely made the cut. But under a new proposal expected to take effect on July 1, Engine 328 will not face cutbacks this time. It will be completely eliminated. The firehouse located at 16-19 Central Avenue also houses Engine 264 and Ladder 134.

The proposal also names 13 other units across the city that face closure under the plan. The only other Queens closure is at Engine 293 in Woodhaven.

There are also cutbacks in store for EMS units, borough commands and fire marshals. In addition, by January 2010, this proposal could call for additional cuts as necessary throughout the city.

The plans, although not confirmed or formally announced by FDNY, have caused concern among community leaders and came as a shock.

"We thought we had convinced the city, due to our unique geographic loca- tion, to not close any fire companies," Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska said. "We don't have the convenience of neighboring firehouses like other communities."

Gaska added that Community Board 14 is against the idea because it is putting too many lives at risk.

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer was among those concerned.

"Any change or reduction in service is unacceptable due to the proximity of the next covering firehouse in the event all our engines are unavailable," said Joann Shapiro, Pheffer's chief of staff.

She added that the closest firehouse that could provide coverage is in Rosedale, six miles away.

Community Board 14 must be notified by May 15, 45 days before the proposed July 1 closing. So far, Gaska has not heard official news of 328's closing.

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