NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Officials are pushing for the reinstatement of FDNY Engine Company 261 to support the growing population of Long Island City.
Politicians, firefighter union leaders and local residents say it was a mistake to remove the firehouse from active use 15 years ago during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s time, reports CBS2’s Dave Carlin.
With the much debated Amazon headquarters move bringing tens of thousands to clog streets, the New York Fire Department will needs more resources in more places to get around congestion.
“Every second is critical, each second of delay has an impact on keeping New Yorkers safe,” said Gerard Fitzgerald, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.
“Long Island City is not protected adequately,” said Jake Lemonda with the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. “Engine 261 was closed back in 2003, population was around 60,000. Today it is over 200,000 occupants.”
Residents remember having the engine company, then losing it, including Jovita Rivera who says decades ago firefighters saved the life of her husband who was having a heart attack.
“Every time I had an emergency they were there,” said Rivera. “I want my engine back.”
People out in LIC say the reason this is a no-brainer is already the bricks and mortar, there is a firehouse there so put an engine it.
Union leaders don’t deny there will be extra expense, several million dollars for starters to get a new engine here, then four officers, 24 firefighters with a projected yearly budget of about $7 million.
“Keeping New Yorkers safe is the mayor’s top priority,” said Jaclyn Rothenberg from the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’re always evaluating resources, demands, and response times and with an eye toward the future we will continue to do that in Long Island City.”