Ladder 53 again could face axe

Every time it looks like Ladder Company 53 is about to get the axe, it never falls, but this year’s budget may finally bring it down.

Hundreds of City Island residents converged on Ladder 53 at 169 Schofield Street on Monday, May 9 calling for the company to remain open 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week after it was rumored that it is one of 20 fire company’s slated for closure under the Mayor’s Executive Budget for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning in June.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca was joined by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, chair of the City Council’s Fire and Criminal Justice Committee, to protest the cut to City Island’s only search and rescue company.

“Again and again over the past two years, the people of City Island have argued loud and clear that closing Ladder 53 would put their lives in danger,” Vacca said. “Through rallies, petition drives, and even a candlelit march, we spoke with one voice to let City Hall know we won’t settle for a response time that is double the city average.”

No matter how bad the budget situation is, every New Yorker needs to know they are entitled to basic emergency services, Vacca said, and he plans on putting up a fight with the City Island community in the next six to eight weeks that should lead them back to the steps of City Hall before the budget is finalized.

“I don’t want to hear that there is no money, I don’t want to hear where the money comes from, I only want to hear that once and for all the city will stop looking to close firehouses in communities like this and throughout the city because there can be no greater priority than life, limb, and property,” Vacca told the crowd.

Fire companies must remain open because of the threats the city still faces from terrorism, as well as an increasing number of runs that are at an all time high, Crowley said.

“Ten years after the attacks on September 11th, New York City remains the number one terrorist target in the world,” Crowley said. “Yet the mayor wants to reduce our first line of defense by closing 20 fire companies.”

Ladder 53 works out of the same Schofield Street station as Engine 70. The next closest ladder company is Co-op City, with a response time that would be anywhere between nine and 12 minutes.

Vacca and Crowley were joined by representatives from Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, the City Island Civic Association, union leaders, and Community Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns.

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