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Northeast Queens elected officials vociferously reacted Thursday to the announcement that FDNY Engine 306 in Bayside would be among 20 fire companies proposed for closure due to cuts from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s preliminary budget.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) and city Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) joined the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) and city Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio in condemning the proposal, and vowed to do everything in their power to see that the company remained open.
“Most Bayside residents served by this company will now be served by Engine 320 on Francis Lewis Boulevard in Whitestone, which is 1.6 miles away. This will add precious minutes to response time for this already-underserved neighborhood,” Halloran wrote in a statement.
Among the 20 companies slated for closure, Engine 306 — located at 40-18 214th Place — has one of the highest response times at 4:49. The post-closing response time would be 6:04; that’s the third largest differential on the list. The pre-closing times are based on an average of times over the last three years, and a spokesman for DeBlasio said that since response times have improved over this span, the differential is understated.
“The closure of this particular firehouse would put the entire Bayside community at risk as the narrow residential streets and bustling commercial sectors would make it nearly impossible for a quick response time for engines racing in from neighboring communities,” Avella wrote.
The FDNY’s report on closings said the post-closing times for Engine 306 are acceptable, given the limited workload. “There is minimal structural fire activity in the area as well as a low number of medical responses and total runs,” the report reads.
Tom Butler, a spokesman for the UFA, said the closing of Engine 306 would have far reaching repercussions. “It’s not just Bayside. In northeast Queens, it’s Douglaston, Little Neck; the way these companies respond this would affect half a dozen communities,” he said.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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