Press Releases

For Immediate Release: September 3, 2009

NYC Firefighters Call Foul Over City's New Pachyderm Policy

Brooklyn Firefighters Ordered by City Hall to Stop Responding to Emergencies to Give "Suzie" the Circus Elephant a Bath on City Streets

On Wednesday, September 2 public safety was significantly compromised in Brooklyn when officials at City Hall ordered firefighters in one of the busiest communities in the City to stop responding to civilian emergencies, so instead it could give a circus elephant a bath.

Engine Company 245 in Coney Island is the first due responder to fires, medical emergencies, building collapses and more in this section of Brooklyn. Being one of the busiest emergency medical response companies in the entire city, it services a community made up of many new immigrants, responds to dozens of public housing buildings, 4 senior housing complexes, Coney Island Hospital, 13 public schools, a minor league baseball stadium and the famous beach and boardwalk which attracts millions of tourists annually.

The New York Daily News has published photos of on-duty New York City Firefighters in their protective bunker gear washing and scrubbing an elephant. The union representing New York City's firefighters is saying it is a disgrace that firefighters were forced to participate in this event, while being ordered to abandon the community they are sworn to protect.

"Thousands of tourists who flock to Coney Island daily and the residents who believe they will be protected should an emergency arise, were jeopardized and left without fire and emergency medical protections all because of a disgraceful publicity stunt authorized by the City of New York," said Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York (UFA). "The city has a moral and legal responsibility to protect all of its citizens and this stunt compromised their safety."

Members of Engine 245 were originally asked to participate in this publicity stunt for Ringling Brothers Circus but declined. The request then rose up the chain of command to the Chief of Department, who also reportedly said no. Firefighters were told that officials at New York City Hall stepped in to order the fire company closed and ordered all on duty FDNY firefighters in the company to participate. The fire company was shut down and taken out of service for approximately 30 minutes while providing the pachyderm bath for Suzie the Circus Elephant.

"The public does not want firefighters out giving baths to circus elephants when our job is to respond to emergencies. It is a disgrace that these firefighters were taken out of service to conduct a publicity stunt for a private company."