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Eight fire companies in Brooklyn — 40 percent of the proposed 20 citywide closures — could flame out under a controversial plan by the Bloomberg Administration to save $55 million.
Of course, the city has been through these kinds of budgetary Kabuki dances before — times when administrations have proposed Draconian cuts which are followed by predictable protests and magical “restorations” of funding at the last minute.
But restorations aren’t certain.
Indeed, in 2003, six firehouses were shuttered — though Brooklyn still has the fastest response times in the city, according to the Bloomberg Administration.
But opponents say that this time, more closures would be disastrous.
“The city needs to seek alternatives to saving money that don’t put people’s lives in jeopardy,” said Chris Olechowski, the chairman of Community Board 1 in Williamsburg, where three fire companies could close.
Here’s a look at how your neighborhood could be affected:
1157 79th St.
Engine 284 is the one of three fire units in the nearly century-old 79th Street firehouse between 11th and 12th avenues that would be closed.
According to estimates, average response times in the tony enclave — a mix of million-dollar mansions and brick semi-attached houses — will jump 32 seconds, to 4:12 seconds, if Engine 284 is closed.
Anything above four minutes is problematic, according to the National Fire Protection Association, which estimates that most fires spread to adjacent rooms if they’re not stanched within that amount of time.
The firehouse was once home to area legend Joseph Graffagnino, who died battling a seven-alarm blaze at the former Deutsche Bank building in Manhattan in 2007.
The city considers Engine 284 one of the less-active units; firefighters assigned there go on a more than 650 calls a year — a third of which are medical emergencies.
But those calls may soon increase.
According to the 2010 census, there are more than 10,000 people living within a mile of the firehouse, with some streets seeing population explosions ranging between seven to 17 percent.
Picking up the slack will be Engine 247, located less than a mile away on 60th Street and 13th Avenue.— Thomas Tracy
2929 W. Eighth St.
Located a couple of blocks from the amusement district and across the street from 20 high-rise apartment buildings, Ladder 161 has an average response time of 4:39.
If the company is shuttered, add 40 seconds to that.
The proposed closure would also affect other area properties, including Boardwalk businesses, the 60th Precinct stationhouse next door, PS 100 on W. Third Street, the Sea Breeze Jewish Center on Sea Breeze Avenue and two strip malls.
Ladder 161 responds to an average of 1,877 calls per year, making it one of the less-active companies, according to the FDNY.
At least two other ladder companies are nearby: Ladder 166 on Neptune Avenue between W. 25th and W. 26th streets, about 18 blocks away, and Ladder 169 on East 11th Street near Blake Court, about 15 blocks away.
— Alex Rush
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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