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Long Island City officials objected to the threatened closing of Ladder 128 in Blissville, saying shuttering the fire company would create longer response times in an area of the borough that has seen a population boom.
“Every second counts and for them to be closing or taking away services, it just doesn’t make sense,” said Joseph Conley, chairman of Community Board 2.
The firehouse, at 33-51 Greenpoint Ave. in Blissville, is one of four in Queens and 20 throughout the borough that have been targeted for closure by Mayor Michael Bloomberg due to budget cuts. Ladder 128, nicknamed “tombstone territory” for its proximity to Calvary Cemetery across the street, celebrated its centennial last year. It services the neighborhoods of Blissville, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Greenpoint in Brooklyn.
The other firehouses in Queens on the shutdown list are Engine 294 at 101-20 Jamaica Ave. in Richmond Hill, Engine 306 at 40-18 214th Place in Bayside and Engine 328 at 16-19 Central Ave. in Far Rockaway.
A report from the Fire Department stated arrival times to those who first respond to the scene would increase by more than a minute, from five minutes 31 seconds to six minutes 44 seconds, if Ladder 128 were to close. But the arrival times for second responders would remain largely the same.
The report further said that surrounding companies would be able to absorb the workload and the company has a small amount of runs. For calendar years 2008, 2009 and 2010, Ladder 128 made an average of 1,188 total runs, and 118 medical runs.
But elected officials expressed worry over a potential increase in response times turning deadly.
“Closing firehouses will result in longer response times in emergency situations that are simply dangerous and unacceptable,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said in a statement. “I stand with the New York City firefighters that risk their lives each day to make us safe, and call on this administration restore all firehouses slated for closure.”
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said that given the population boom and the increased number of high-rise condominiums being built in Long Island City, closing the firehouse would be “a horrible mistake.” He said when Long Island City previously lost Engine 261 in Long Island City, which closed in 2003, response times lengthened.
“The last thing we need is to lose a ladder company,” Gianaris said.
The senator also said he would work to make sure the city reverses its decision, and if anything the area needs more fire services.
“This is an annual game that the city plays,” Gianaris said. “They propose firehouse closings and put people in a panic.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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