June 1, 2011 By Christian Murray
Local politicians, firefighters and the community activists joined forces on Friday at Ladder company 128 in Long Island City to protest that fire company’s proposed closure.
The protest comes in the wake of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to close as many as 20 fire companies across New York – including Ladder 128, located at 33-51 Greenpoint Ave. Bloomberg plans to close these fire companies as a means to save money during these difficult fiscal times; however, the potential closures have drawn the scorn of local leaders.
Ladder 128 has been serving the City of New York for more than a century in emergency situations, including playing an integral role in the rescue efforts during the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Ladder 128 serves the communities of Blissville, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
According to a recent report, closing Ladder 128 would result in response times approaching nearly 7 minutes, well above the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) four minute benchmark. According to NFPA studies, increased response times lead to greater casualties and expanded property damage in emergencies.
“In an emergency, every second saves lives,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who was among the politicians at the rally. “Allowing response times to skyrocket is simply unacceptable. The Mayor must reconsider this dangerous proposal. As the population continues to grow in the area, this is not the time to cut services that protect our residents. I will continue to fight to keep Ladder 128 open for the safety of our local residents.”
Meanwhile, Congressman Joe Crowley echoed those comments: “In a fire or emergency, every second counts. That’s why our neighborhood firehouses, like Ladder 128, and the brave men and women of the New York City Fire Department are essential to the safety of our communities,” However, Crowley did acknowledge the tough fiscal times. “While budget cuts are necessary right now, there cannot be a compromise when it comes to providing lifesaving services. I urge the City to reconsider these closures,” he said.
Out of the twenty fire companies slated for closure, the loss of Ladder 128 will create the second longest average response time. The Fire Department released a report that estimates the arrival times for first responders will likely increase by more than a minute, from five minutes 31 seconds to six minutes 44 seconds, if Ladder 128 were to close.