Press Releases

For Immediate Release: January 24, 2007

Testimony of John Kelly, Brooklyn Trustee

Borough President Markowitz and honored guests, my name is John Kelly I am a New York City Firefighter and Brooklyn Trustee of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York. The UFA is submitting testimony on behalf of all of its 8,900 active New York City Firefighters.

New York City firefighters are very concerned about the Fire Department of New York and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services' desire and actions to sell off vital emergency infrastructure -- namely firehouses whose job it is to protect the residents of this borough -- specifically Engines 212 and 204.

Allowing this sale of these vital properties to be sold off is in essence signing off on the Fire Commissioner's decision in May of 2003 to close 4 Brooklyn engine companies.

We are outraged by the application and believe that the loss of these buildings will now guarantee Brooklyn will be underserved with regards to fire protection for generations to come.

The FDNY's own data supports how underserved the borough currently is with regard to fire protection.

In 1956 total firefighter emergency responses in the borough of Brooklyn were 20, 466;

50 years later in the year 2006 that volume of emergency calls to our firefighters has increased a staggering 700% to 138,683 firefighter emergency calls. If that is not enough to convince you here is the topper... During that same period of time the total number of engine companies serving the people of Brooklyn has DECREASED by 9, including the 4 taken away from you in may 2003.

It is obvious that this increase is demand for fire services is directly related to the population increase over the years, and it is preposterous to think that it will not continue.

As a city we can not be eliminating and reducing infrastructure as our communities grow. To advocate for closing and selling firehouses is negligence at best.

Just last month the Mayor forecasted population boom like no other for our city. Within the next two decades our city population will swell by 1 million more residents - the equivalent of adding the population of Miami and Boston to the current population - the Mayor says. Add to that, 50 million tourists to New York City by the end of the decade - many of whom are finding their way to Brooklyn.

In Williamsburg, Greenpoint and the Brooklyn waterfront it is expected that 60,000 new housing units will be built. Each of those new residents will require emergency protections and if in 2007 this community actually advocates for the selling off of these buildings, it is only endorsing the plan to downsize the fire protection the residents of this borough need.

The Uniformed Firefighters Association is an advocate for reopening the four Brooklyn firehouses closed by Commissioner Scoppetta in May 2003. To give your blessing to this sale is akin to the final nail in the coffin of those firehouses and any future they might potentially have under future FDNY administrations.

Finally, we have also heard the rumor that representatives from the city are suggesting to the community that that these buildings are no longer viable, modern enough or structurally sound to serve as firehouses. That is just not true.

This is not a credible excuse for selling the property, considering that Engine 212's quarters served it quite well even in May of 2003. Engine 212's building could more than likely be reopened and returned to service with an engine company running from it within just a short few weeks.

Our city and this borough are starving for additional fire companies, and by subtracting Engine companies rather than adding them, you will make this a less safe place to live and work.

I hope you will stand with New York City Firefighters and not against us. I hope you will not bless Commissioner Scoppetta's closure of four Engine Companies by acting to authorize his selling off of two vital community firehouses today.