City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) said city budget cuts could likely force firehouses throughout the five boroughs to shut down, but sites in his district have not been targeted at this point.
The councilman has been touring firehouses in northeast Queens to talk to firefighters about proposed city budget cuts. A total of 20 firehouses, most of which are in the Bronx or Brooklyn, could be shuttered across the city.
But Halloran said he believed shuttering firehouses in his district could be disastrous.
“Everyone is concerned about the pending closures,” he said. “None in my district are on the line. It would be far too dangerous to pull our companies because the district is primarily one- and two-family houses.”
Halloran covers a number of northeast Queens neighborhoods, including Bayside, Whitestone, East Flushing, College Point, Malba, Oakland Gardens, Little Neck and Douglaston.
On Friday afternoon, Halloran stopped by Bayside’s 152 H&L Co. Engine 306 along 214th Place to meet with firefighters. He said he believed the closure of any Queens firehouse could affect response times for sites across the borough.
“You pull out a house in western Queens, it will impact here,” he said. “Every second you delay, you increase the possibility that the loss of life will occur.”
Halloran said the budget cuts would not lead to layoffs within the city Fire Department. Firefighters from sites that were closed amid the cuts would be reassigned to other firehouses.
The closures would save the city $7.4 million, but Halloran said the city would not have to shutter the stations if they made cuts in other areas of city government.
“The city spends millions of dollars on silly pet projects that get nothing done for New Yorkers,” he said. “Our firefighters, on the other hand, save people’s lives. They should be immune from budget cuts at all times.”
James Long, an FDNY spokesman, said the department was would work within the constraints of the city budget.
“We will continue to operate and serve the community, but we may have to learn to do that with less,” he said. “It’s a difficult time.”
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2010 Community News Group
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