2012-05-18 / Top Stories

Politicians React To Engine 328 Cut

By Nicholas Briano

The Big House patch bears the name of all three fire companies at the Central Avenue firehouse. The Big House patch bears the name of all three fire companies at the Central Avenue firehouse. Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder joined the list of Rockaway elected officials who are denouncing the choice by Mayor Bloomberg to once again threaten to close Engine 328 in Far Rockaway when he rolled out his executive budget earlier this month.

The “Big House” located at 1615 Central Avenue is also home to Engine 264 and Ladder 134. Engine 328 however, has been on Bloomberg’s budgetary chopping block every year since 2008 when Engine 328 barely made the cut for proposed nighttime closures. The discussion has surfaced yearly since then.

Local firefighters have told The Wave in the past that other areas of the city benefit from receiving additional help in all directions. However, there’s no other direction for help to come from considering the peninsula borders Nassau County and is bordered on three sides by Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Politicians, Community Board 14 and firefighters all agree that with the community growing at the current pace, closing Engine 328 will place a future burden on the remaining fire houses.

In fact, the peninsula currently operates with six engines and three ladder companies, when the typical fire, according to FDNY guidelines, requires the response of at least four engines. The closest firehouse outside of the Rockaway peninsula is in Rosedale which is more than five miles away from certain points in Rockaway. A multi-alarm fire could take that fire company up to 15 minutes to respond, assuming they’re available to help.

Assemblyman Goldfeder sent a letter to Bloomberg this week requesting that he consider the safety burden that will be placed on the community should Engine 328 become shuttered.

“Engine 328 has been on the mayor’s chopping block time and time again,” Goldfeder said. “Although I understand the need to trim the city budget, the mayor must not take chances with the safety and protection of the Rockaway community.”

News of Engine 328 being placed on the chopping block surfaced in February when he released his proposed budget. This fire engine and 19 others were threatened at that time. Some of those firehouses have been put on the list as frequently as Engine 328.

“The mayor should not be balancing the budget on the backs of the men and women who risk their lives every day,” Goldfeder continued. “Closing Engine 328 would put the lives of Rockaway residents in jeopardy; it will increase response times to an unacceptable rate, which could mean the difference between life and death.”

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