Richmond Hill firehouse closing infuriates pols

Richmond Hill firehouse closing infuriates pols
Several dozen people rally outside Engine 294 last year in protest of its then-planned closure.
By Joe Anuta

A Richmond Hill firehouse is slated to close under the city’s plan, making lawmakers and civic leaders furious.

The city released a list of 20 firehouses across the five boroughs proposed to close due to budget constraints.

Engine Company 294 at 101-20 Jamaica Ave. is on the chopping block.“The mayor’s proposal to close Engine 294 on Jamaica Avenue is absurd,” Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven) said in a statement. “We have already lost major services in Queens and losing this firehouse would simply add insult to injury.”

Miller and others in the area have cited Richmond Hill and Woodhaven as especially prone to deadly fires.

Many area homes are built of wood, Miller said, and are also built very close to one another, which is why the FDNY’s response time is critical.

“Delaying response times to these neighborhoods will directly cause more property damage and loss of life,” he said.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), whose district encompasses the Richmond Hill firehouse, also condemned the closures.

“The mayor’s list of the 20 targeted company closings illustrates how every corner of this city will be impacted, its safety compromised and its residents put at risk — this is unacceptable,” said Crowley, who is chairwoman of the fire and criminal justice committee. “If the city moves forward with any of these closures, people who could have been saved will die.”

The FDNY released a list of proposed changes in response times for all of the listed firehouses. The response time for the first truck would be 32 seconds longer, according to the document.

But a spokesman for the city Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio said that since the old response times used in the FDNY’s list are an average of the last three years, they are artificially high.

Response times have shrunk over the last three years.

The difference in response times would be even greater, Spokesman Wiley Norvell said.

The Uniformed Fire Fighters Association of Greater New York released a statement in response to the list.

“Today [Mayor] Mike Bloomberg willfully abdicated responsibility for protecting the safety of New Yorkers with his proposal to close 20 fire companies. [Twenty] closed fire companies will affect at least 60 communities and the city as a whole,” said President Steve Cassidy.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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