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BY JOHN BAYLES | The press conference and rally in front of Ladder 8 in Tribeca last Friday was cut short, and for good reason. As local politicians, neighborhood activists and even a movie star were delivering their speeches, there was a sudden interruption: sirens begun to sound and bells begun to ring.
The doors of the old firehouse opened and out came a fire truck, responding to an emergency call.
There could not have been a better ending to the event.
Hundreds of people gathered to call on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to retreat from his assault on firehouses throughout the city; all in the name of trimming the budget.
“We have to send a message loud and clear — we cannot balance the budget by closing the firehouses and putting the children who are standing here in jeopardy, said City Council member Margaret Chin.
Turns out, Ladder 8 is safe. As of Monday, it was announced that the iconic fire station, made famous by the movie “Ghostbusters” will be spared.
But last Friday the community did what they do best: they rallied, and they forced Mayor Bloomberg to change his mind.
To the surprise of many of the people in the crowd, there was special guest, someone known more for his roles in award-winning motion pictures and most recently in the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.”
“I couldn’t get my foot in the door to even audition for that movie,” said Steve Buscemi. “Even if I could, most Hollywood directors at that time would have told me, ‘Don’t quit your day job.’”
The Emmy-award winning actor admitted that is was “sound advice,” — at least back then.
“But actually, at that time, I had a really great day job,” he said. “I was working at Engine Company 55 in Little Italy.”
“Firefighters depend on each other and the public depends on firefighters to be dependent on each other – we are there for each other – on and off the job.”
“This is very personal to me,” Buscemi continued.
“Even though I couldn’t get on the set of Ghostbusters as a firefighter, I was always welcome in this house, he recalled. “This is an old house. They’ve been serving this community, bravely, honorably since 1904. They are here for the community. They are here for this neighborhood. They’ve always helped us, now they need our help.”
The crowd of roughly 150 people erupted in applause.
“Stand up for your community. Stand up for all the communities. Don’t wait, save Ladder 8!” Buscemi yelled.
While Buscemi stole the show, other electeds like Public Advocate Bill De Blasio were on hand and had some harsh words for the mayor.
“The problem is the public is being deceived, not being told the truth,” said De Blasio. “You have to tell the mayor that you cannot balance the budget on the tender backs of our children and our elderly, because they are the most vulnerable in a fire.”
Community Board1 Chair Julie Menin pointed out the proximity of Ladder 8, in particular, to the World Trade Center site. She reminded the audience that Lower Manhattan was still the number one terrorist target in the country.
“So how on earth can this mayor and this city think they can shut down this firehouse? This is a matter of life and death,” said Menin.