On May 22, I attended a rally protesting Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to close 20 firehouses throughout New York City. The demonstration took place outside Engine 306, a firehouse at 40-18 214th Place in Bayside.
Engine 306 is one of the 20 houses the Bloomberg administration deems unnecessary to protect the members of our community. At the rally, several elected officials, members of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association and community leaders spoke out against the proposed closing.
Speakers included state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), UFOA President Al Hagan and Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece. I want to thank the speakers for their dedication and support on this issue, but preventing the closure of Engine 306 and the other 19 firehouses will require increased pressure from local residents and strong representation from elected officials at the city level.
There is no denying that the city is facing financial difficulties, but most New Yorkers would consider the safety of the city’s residents the highest priority. Unfortunately, the Bloomberg administration is more concerned with balancing the budget than protecting the most vulnerable members of our community.
Generally, senior citizens and children are those most affected by dangerous fires. Personally, I am not willing to balance the budget on the backs of those who have served our community for the longest or those who are too young to understand the repercussions of a mayor who is out of touch with the residents he is supposed to serve. The fight to keep firehouses open and protect the residents of our community has already begun, but it is up to us to make sure our voices are heard.
One of the best ways to reach out to city elected officials is a phone banking operation targeting City Council members’ district offices. Phone banking enables concerned residents to put pressure on elected officials throughout the city. I will be spearheading a phone banking effort in the first week of June.
Hopefully, the mayor will receive the message from our community loud and clear: We will lie down in front of our fire trucks before we allow the city to compromise our safety. If the mayor does not heed our call the first time, we will continue until he does. The power of democracy rests with numbers. Together, let’s show the mayor where the masses he is supposed to represent stand on this issue.
If you are interested in receiving more information on the phone banking operation, please e-mail me at email@example.com.
Community Board 11
©2011 Community News Group
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