Residents protest FDNY's planned cutbacks

December 13, 2008 5:18:45 PM PST
The FDNY is also feeling the sharp edge of the city budget knife.There are plans to slash night time staffing at four firehouses. One of them is Engine Company 161 on Mcclean Avenue in Staten Island -- where angry residents staged a protest today.They shouted "161!!!.. 24-7 !!," because they hope the city will somehow save their firehouse. Engine Company 161 is set to close between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. to save the city money...well these residents fear it'll end up costing lives....

"A lot of fires happen at night and a a lot of emergencies happen..I had a relative that got sick at my house and they were the first ones that came.." says Staten Island resident, Erica Rusinak

"Engine 161 provides medical protection for just a huge array of people in a large area.." said Stephen Cassidy of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

Perhaps no one here understands the value of that -- better than Joe Mollinelli -- whose wife went into cardiac arrest...until firefighters from this company arrived...

"These young kids in this firehouse came running up within 5 minutes..God bless them..they saved her life..," resident Joseph Mollinelli said.

"The fire department is trying to save nearly $9-million with this cutback..they plan to close Engine 161 overnight..and three others in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan.

  • Click here for more information on the future FDNY cutbacks.

    But even if the fire department concedes, that most fire fatalities do take place at night, this particular section of Staten island -- which sits near the Verrazano growing fast...and a greater burden will be placed on the other local fire fighters who remain on the job. Bernadette Bellantoni's son, among them...

    "They will not have the engine company with them, to get them water?they'll have to wait for another engine company..." resident Bernadette Bellantoni.

    While these residents have no legal recourse...some local members of city council vow to make this a lightening rod in the mayor's budget battles...

    "Where we can say to the mayor- 'don't ask us to do anything else until you restore this cut.." City Council member Michael McMahon says.

    If not -- the overnight closures set to take effect -- on January 17th in Staten Island.

    STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Stacey Sager
    WEB PRODUCED BY: Lakisha Bostick

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