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Elected Officals Rail Against Proposed Fire Company Closures

By Carla Zanoni | March 9, 2012 12:01pm
According to the Mayor's Preliminary 2013 Fiscal Budget, 20 companies would be eliminated.
According to the Mayor's Preliminary 2013 Fiscal Budget, 20 companies would be eliminated.
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DNAinfo/Jon Schuppe

NEW YORK — City Council members blasted the city's threat to shut down 20 fire companies across the city as part of a proposed cost-cutting budget that would help close the projected $43 million gap in the budget, saying it would jeopardize New Yorkers' safety.

City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez called the FDNY’s preliminary $1.7 billion budget for Fiscal 2013 presented to the City Council Thursday “impossible” to accomplish in a responsible manner, saying Upper Manhattan would suffer if the city shut down 20 fire companies throughout the city.

"New York City gained more than 150,000 residents in the past decade, yet we're faced with the closure of 20 fire [companies.] It seems pretty clear that it will be impossible to provide the same protection to more people with fewer” companies, said Rodriguez, echoing the concerns of elected officials citywide.

The report issued by the City Council Thursday does not specify which fire houses would be targeted for closure.

A similar proposal was presented last year, but was circumvented when the City Council restored more than $40 million to maintain the houses. 

The 2013 budget proposed by the Bloomberg Administration does not include the Council’s restoration from last year.

City Councilman Peter Vallone said the city's threat is a waste of time. 

If you want to know how I feel, roll back the tape on the same hearing last year and the year before that,” he told DNAinfo Friday.

“The mayor is well aware of how I feel about this and I think it’s irresponsible to force us to waste our energies protesting and getting community groups together when at the end of the day we know this is too dangerous to implement.” 

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said the closures would "make it extremely challenging to maintain the same levels of service to the communities" the FDNY serves. 

"Every community in the City will be affected, not just those communities in the response areas of the closed companies," he said.

The Mayor’s Office did not immediately respond to calls for comment. 

In addition to potentially closing 20 companies, the proposal calls for the implementation of a “Building Inspection Safety Protocol Fee,” which would charge building owners for a standard City agency test of the safety of structures, and the increase of EMS ambulance rates, building plan reviews and fire violation fines.

Those increases would generate an approximate $25.3 million, according to the FDNY.