Don’t Close Our Firehouse!
More than 200 people were on hand and they overflowed into the street outside 1615 Central Avenue for the “Save Engine 328” rally. The threecompany “Big House,” after surviving a wave of service reduction threats last year, is once again looking at the possibility of losing Engine Company 328 if the proposed closures are approved by the FDNY and city officials.
“The city seriously has its priorities messed up,” Councilmember James Sanders Jr. said at the rally. “How sad would it be if we finally get the Thriftway Mall rebuilt and it burns down?”
Queens Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who is chairperson of the Council’s Fire and Criminal Justice Committee, was on hand to lend her voice opposing the elimination of fire houses.
“Our message is clear,” Crowley screamed. “Keep our firehouses open!”
The number of fire related fatalities has hit a 20-year low, but will only increase, Crowley says, if services across the city are reduced.
“We must continue protesting until the mayor hears our message,” she said.
Fire Department guidelines state that structural fires require a minimum response of four engines to each fire, even though the entire peninsula currently is covered by just six engine and three truck companies.
Politicians and fire union officials contend that it is geographically necessary to maintain the amount of fire department staff because the nearest fire department off the peninsula is on Brookville Boulevard and South Conduit Avenue, in Rosedale, more than five miles away. Queens is already 20 seconds above the citywide average response time of 4:02 minutes for structural fires, and in the event of a multi-alarm fire, help could take as long as 15 minutes to arrive from that Rosedale firehouse.
The closures, if approved, are expected to take place sometime in the summer months. The overdue state budget, which has yet to be passed, will determine how much aid New York City will receive and in part, could contribute to the restoration of proposed cuts.