Scoppetta Won't Close Firehouses, Wants To Extend Firefighter List

Chief Leader - December 01, 2009

by ARI PAUL

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta Nov. 23 said that he would not propose fire company closings to achieve budget cuts before he leaves his post at the end of the year.

"There are no plans now to close firehouses," Mr. Scoppetta said during his testimony to the City Council's Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee.

Urges Firefighter List Extension

Speaking about the Fire Department's strategic plan for the fiscal year, Mr. Scoppetta also said that he wanted the city to use its authority to appoint from the current Firefighter eligible list past 2011, when it is set to expire, because it still has 4,000 eligibles. He indicated that the department has now dropped below headcount, which could also result in higher overtime costs. He believed that using the current list would also help diversify the department.

Mr. Scoppetta said that in addition to using new technology to track firefighters in fire buildings and enhance emergency responses, he hoped to change the "culture" of the department to improve health and safety.

"[The] FDNY is using video presentations, group discussion and the Intranet to reinforce the importance of taking all available safety measures, including adopting defensive driving methods, using seat belts and wearing helmet chin straps," he said in written testimony.

Committee Chair James Vacca said at the hearing that while the department's plan has beneficial aspects, it does not provide specific time-tables to implement new initiatives.

"I'm concerned that the plan does not go far enough in the future and fails to address some serious areas, such as how to deploy serious resources to meet the needs of a growing and aging population," Mr. Vacca said.