Halloran, Other Leaders Call on City to Preserve Critical Fire Engine

Numerous elected officials, union leaders, and community activists joined City Council Member Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) today at a rally in Bayside to protest the planned closing of Engine 306, which serves that neighborhood. The rally was attended by over 350 people from Bayside, Queens and the surrounding areas.

Engine 306 is one of 20 fire engines in New York City facing closure in the Mayor’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2012, which begins July 1, 2011.

The closest engine to 306 is Engine 320 on Francis Lewis Boulevard in Auburndale, which is 1.6 driving miles away. According to a study performed by the United Firefighter Officers Association (UFOA), response times for Bayside would be the longest in the borough of Queens if this engine were to be closed.

Council Member Halloran said:
“There are plenty of places where our City spends and spends that should be cut. But cuts from public safety should not be an option. Today we are here to tell the Mayor that closing firehouses is not on the table.

“When responding to a fire, every second could be the difference between life and death. Closing Engine 306 would add precious seconds to response times. Northeast Queens is residential in character. My Council district is one of the largest geographically in the City. Due to our lack of density, it takes time to get from one end of Bayside to the other. Closing fire engines anywhere is not acceptable, but in districts like mine, it’s even more devastating.
“I thank my colleagues in the City Council and the countless leaders of labor, business, and government who stood with me today. Together, we can save Engine 306 and keep Bayside families safe.”

Council Member Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), Chair of the Council’s Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice, said:
“Today’s fiscal reality forces us to make tough choices — but we must have our priorities straight. Before cutting the life-and-death services provided by first responders, we must first cut wasteful spending for failed pet projects and corrupt private contracts.”

Council Member Peter Koo (R-Flushing) said:
“In difficult economic times we should not make budget cuts that would jeopardize public safety. Closing firehouses will have a dramatic impact on fire personnel response times putting the public in danger. Additionally, being the number one target for terrorists, NYC can ill afford to have a fire department that is understaffed and inadequately equipped when called upon to respond to an attack.”

Council Member Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) said:
“In balancing a budget, we cannot compromise public safety. The job our firefighters do every day is priceless. You can’t put a dollar sign on a life saved.”