Press Releases

For Immediate Release: April 21, 2010

Manhattan Firefighters, Political & Community Leaders Rally to Protect Manhattan Firehouses

Video Coverage of the UFA Rally to Prevent Firehouse Closings in Front of Lower Manhattan's Engine-4

Leaders from the Uniformed Firefighters Association joined by City Council Criminal Justice Committee Chair Elizabeth Crowley, Council Member Margaret Chin, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York City Firefighters and community activists turned out at Engine 4 at the South Street Seaport to protest budget cuts that threaten to reduce staffing levels and close firehouses.

The Mayor has threatened to close at least 20 fire companies and as many as 60 fire companies on July 1, 2010, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

"The last five years have been the busiest in the nearly 150 year history of the FDNY, yet City Hall still wants to close firehouses. A government's number one priority is to provide for the safety and protection of its citizens, but if proposed staffing cuts and firehouse closures are enacted it will dramatically increase in the time it takes to get a fire truck or an ambulance to an emergency and as result, civilians and firefighters will die," said UFA President Steve Cassidy. Firehouses in downtown Manhattan respond to major tourist attractions, transit hubs and potential terrorist targets including Wall Street, The World Financial Center, The World Trade Center, The Federal Office Building, the State and Federal Courts, as well as Chinatown the South Street Seaport and Little Italy, just to name a few.

Cassidy continued, "New York City remains the number one terrorist target in our nation and closing firehouses, especially at the levels proposed by the mayor would make it virtually impossible to provide protections at the level New Yorkers expect." "Lower Manhattan and the Financial District have had several of the most serious fires and emergency response incidents over the past decade including the attack on the World Trade Center, the Deutsche Bank fire and most recently the Grand Street fire in Chinatown," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. "The value to our community of our local fire companies in responding to these and many other construction accidents and as the first line of defense in the event of another terrorist attack cannot possibly be overstated. It is therefore critically important that we keep every fire house in this area open and operational including Engine 4 to protect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Lower Manhattan each and every day."

"While the Mayor is proposing to close fire companies, 200 people are in search of emergency shelter after being displaced by the massive fire that struck Chinatown last week," said City Council Fire & Criminal Justice Chair Elizabeth Crowley (D-Queens). "If Engine 4 had been closed that night, as was proposed in last year's budget, the Chinatown community would have lost more homes, businesses and probably lives. It is irresponsible to eliminate fire companies when our fire services are responding to more emergencies than ever before."

"In the four months that I have represented District 1, we have had fires in almost every corner of it, from SoHo to Chinatown to the Financial District," said Council Member Margaret Chin. "On top of this we have recently seen first hand the need for firefighters in our City with the devastating 7-alarm blaze on Grand Street, where this company responded and operated. With all the needs and growing population of lower Manhattan, now is not the time to be eliminating essential life-saving services here or anywhere in New York City. "Much of New York is a vertical city, especially here in lower Manhattan," said Daniel Murphy, the UFA's Manhattan Trustee. "Firefighters are not just the first people on the scene in cases of fire, but they are also the first to arrive in the event of a medical emergency. Closing firehouses would increase response times to both fires and medical emergencies such as heart attacks."

"In an emergency where seconds' matter, the shuttering of a firehouse can have devastating consequences," said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. "We just had a 7-alarm blaze in Chinatown-how much clearer of a signal does there need to be that the safety of New Yorkers can not be jeopardized? Lives and livelihoods are on the line here."