2010-06-18 / Front Page

Don’t Close Our Firehouse!

By Nicholas Briano
Firefighters, politicians, community leaders and local residents were out in force on Wednesday afternoon in front of “The Big House” to protest the proposed closing of Engine 328, which is one of 20 fire companies city-wide slated for closing due to budget cuts.

Politicians, residents and union leaders came together this week to protest the closing of Engine 328, part of the three-company “Big House” in Far Rockaway. Politicians, residents and union leaders came together this week to protest the closing of Engine 328, part of the three-company “Big House” in Far Rockaway. 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?”

(Photo right) Children from local schools and day care centers came to the rally to support “The Big House.” (Photo right) Children from local schools and day care centers came to the rally to support “The Big House.” Sanders insisted that the community voice its displeasure about the closings and that they must continue to fight against reduced emergency services.

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.

Many firefighters from all areas of the city made it out to Far Rockaway for the rally. Many firefighters from all areas of the city made it out to Far Rockaway for the rally. 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.
Councilmember James Sanders Jr. was joined by union leaders and local politicians for the rally. Councilmember James Sanders Jr. was joined by union leaders and local politicians for the rally.
This woman was one of many concerned residents protesting the proposed cuts this week outside “The Big House.” This woman was one of many concerned residents protesting the proposed cuts this week outside “The Big House.”

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