NEW YORK, NEW YORK – The secret is out.
CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer has learned exclusively some of the fire houses on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s chopping block. Some say shutting them down could put your safety at risk.
Twenty fire companies are on death row including, sources said, Engine 271 in Bushwick. And unless there’s a last-minute reprieve communities all across the city across could be in danger.
“It’s very serious. Mayor Bloomberg is asking the Fire Department to roll the dice on public safety. If you close one fire company, let alone 20, even one fire company will impact the safety of New Yorkers,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, D-Queens.
“When response time goes up you’re talking about loss of property and loss of life,” added Councilman James Vacca.
Vacca is all fired up about the expectation that Ladder 53 on City Island — in his district — is on the closure list.
“We know our budget is bad but no one can justify jeopardizing life and limb and public safety,” Vacca said.
Sources told Kramer that others expected to be on death row are Engine 161 on Staten Island and Engine 4 at the South Street Seaport.
When Engine 4 left the firehouse on a call Wednesday, firefighters wondered whether it would be among their last in the dense Wall Street area near ground zero.
Kramer asked fire union official Edward Boles to explain, for example, what closing Engine 4 would mean for fire safety.
“Engine 4 is the first engine to respond if there was any tragedy at Wall Street,” Boles said. “Wall Street is the economic capital of the world. They’re also a mass de-con unit, so if there was a major terrorist attack they would be the first ones to help out.”
People who live and work in the area are terrified.
“It’s such a compact neighborhood that you need someone here to respond quickly to any type of fire because it would spread like wildfire,” said Tom Rooney, who works in the area.
“Its scary, it’s absolutely scary. I don’t know what else to say,” Lower Manhattan resident Toni Sosinsky said.
“A lot of new apartments around here. All of these office buildings have become apartments, so I don’t think you should close it down. When you look at the density of the amount of people who are moving down to the Financial District, now they need it,” added Michael Springer, who also works in the area.
And Boles has a message for Mayor Bloomberg:
“Please, for the sake of the citizens of New York City and for their safety, don’t put dollars before lives,” Boles said.
The FDNY is already operating with nearly 600 fewer firefighters. City officials said it doesn’t expect to release the full list of the doomed 20 until sometime next month.