Ladder 53 on Closure List

It is official: Ladder 53 is one of the 20 citywide firehouses the has been recommended for closure.

As part of the draft report released by the Fire Department on engine and ladder company analysis on Wednesday, May 18, Ladder Company 53 at 169 Schofield Street on City Island, along with Engine Company 46 at 460 Cross Bronx Expressway and Engine 60 at 341 E. 143rd Street, were recommended for closure.

The plan, being proposed by the Bloomberg Administration, is designed to save the city over $50 million to close a budget shortfall in the budget due out in six weeks.

It has already drawn heat by the Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and Councilman Jimmy Vacca.

“The neighborhoods targeted by these cuts will see their safety go up in smoke,” de Blasio said. “If the Mayor succeeds in cutting these companies, some communities won’t meet the response times needed in places like Fargo, North Dakota, let alone a city where we need to fight fires on the upper floors of big apartment buildings.”

According to the report released by de Blasio on Monday, May 23, the three Bronx fire companies slated for closure would see response times for neighboring companies rise to over four minutes, with the response time to City Island from four minutes and 44 second to nine minutes and 49 seconds.

A minimum response time of four minutes is recommended by the National Fire Protection Association to keep a fire from spreading beyond a single room, de Blasio’s report stated.

“It is an indisputable fact that response times will double on City Island if Ladder 53 closes, putting people’s lives at risk,” Vacca said. “I do not support any firehouse closing in this city, but City Island sticks out like a sore thumb and its inclusion on the closure list flies in the face of the Fire Department’s own admissions that lives could be lost as a result. We will fight the Fire Department tooth and nail to preserve basic lifesaving service on City Island.”

The FDNY’s report said closing Ladder 53, is due in part to the fact that the company ranks last in number of first runs of all the fire companies in the city.

Barbara Dolensek of the City Island Civic Association believes that the number of runs is artificially low because Ladder 53 is not allowed to leave the island to go on runs.

The administration is balancing its budget by risking the safety of community members, said CICA president Bill Stanton. Diaz agreed.

“Mayor Bloomberg is compromising public safety and that cannot be an option for the City to balance the budget,” Diaz said.

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