Thursday, June 9, 2011

Second Rally to Save Engine Company 205 in Brooklyn Heights

A second rally to save Engine Company 205 in Brooklyn Heights was held yesterday (here's the first one), and in spite of the sweltering temperature, bad air quality and threatening clouds, a crowd of supporters and representatives turned out to support the company. The Mayor has threatened to close 20 fire companies, and, in spite of our borough's rampant growth, eight of them are in Brooklyn.

Above, City Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley (D-Queens) has been attending rallies at many of the threatened firehouses. (She is chair of the Fire & Criminal Justice Committee.) She said, "I understand that in tough times, we need to prioritize. But public safety needs to be at the top of the list."

Councilman Steve Levin (D-Brooklyn Heights/DUMBO) said the next few weeks are "crunch time -- The City Council will be negotiating with the Mayor over the budget. DUMBO and Downtown Brooklyn are expanding wildly, and we can't afford to let Engine 205 close."

He added, " It's disgraceful to play political games with people's lives."

Actor Steve Buscemi has been a staunch supporter of the threatened firehouses. He is a former firefighter who, with Joan Millman and other representatives, was active in the fight for Engine Co. 204 in Cobble Hill. Like Millman, he was arrested at the time for civil disobedience.

"Call 311!" he urged the crowd. "All New Yorkers must let their voices be heard."

State Assemblywomen Joan Millman said that if Engine Co. 205 closes, the next closest companies are 224 on Hicks Street and 207 on Gold, neither of which are that close to Brooklyn Heights or DUMBO. "In a fire, when the hook and ladder comes, they have to wait for the engine company to hook up the water. Seconds count.

"In this administration, everything is for sale. Well to me, this engine company is priceless."

Marian Fontana, widow of 9/11 hero Lt. Dave Fontana, said that Mayor Bloomberg told her after 9/11 that "our men would never be forgotten. But now he's forgetting them."

2010 was the "busiest year on record," she said. "How can he [the Mayor] rationalize closing fire companies?"

Retired Engine Co. 205 firefighter John Sorrentino led the event. Representatives for State Senator Daniel Squadron and Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez attended, as did the President of the Brooklyn Heights Association, Jane McGroarty, the final speaker.

As Ms. McGroarty began her remarks the skies opened and the storm began. She said a few words about the importance of the fire company to Brooklyn Heights, and the rally was adjourned.

Photos by MK Metz

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