Volume 21, Number 34 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 2 - 8, 2009

Letters to the Editor

Iraq vet is fired up

To The Editor:
The following is an open letter to Mayor Bloomberg:  

I am writing to you as I am deeply concerned about the closing of Engine Company 4 and Engines 161, 271 and ladder 53.  I have been a firefighter with F.D.N.Y. for almost 12 years.  In addition to that I have a B.S. in fire science and am working on an M.A. in emergency management.  Due to my current deployment to Iraq with the Army Reserves, I worry about the safety and health of my family.  The last thing I need to be concerned with is that the safety of my wife and two children will be further compromised as a result of these “staff reductions.” 

Closing any of the units will have dangerous effects on both the citizens you are sworn to serve and protect, and the fire department.  Suppressing a fire requires a well-coordinated attack utilizing an engine company and ladder company.  An engine company’s role is to apply water to the fire, while the ladder opens up the structure and locates the fire.  Neither unit functions properly without the other.  Since a fire grows exponentially if either the engine or ladder is missing or delayed, the fire will be much harder to control resulting in greater damage and potential for loss of life.  In the case of Engine Company 4, that would be my wife and children. 

As a resident of Battery Park City, a neighborhood that has been under construction since the tragic morning of September 11th, I am aware of the dangerous consequences of the ongoing situation regarding streets that are impassible to fire apparatus.  Engine Company 4 is the second due engine to the apartment building in which we live.  Depending on traffic, they can arrive before the first due engine.  By closing Engine Company 4 you have put my wife and children’s lives in danger since the next closest engine will take at minimum a minute or more to arrive.  The effect of that delay could result in mortal danger to my wife and children. 

Studies conducted by the Dallas, Los Angeles, and Providence Fire Departments have shown reduction in staffing levels have negative effects on two parts of the community.  First and most obvious, it will take longer to suppress a fire.  Consequently, there will be more fire damage which will result in a larger insurance payments and potential injury or loss of life.  Additionally, there is the ripple effect on the community in economic terms.  

The second area affected is the fire department itself.  As a result of the missing company, the remaining units will have to work that much harder increasing the opportunity for a line of duty injury or death.

There are other means to close the budget deficit.  As a businessman, you should strive to root out redundancy to service.  The purpose of the fire department is to rescue individuals from danger while the police department’s purpose is law enforcement.  This being the case, why does the N.Y.P.D. have police officers that are rescue equipped and trained?  This contradicts the National Response Plan and National Incident Management System as directed by the Department of Homeland Security.  Additionally, why did the N.Y.P.D.spend more than $500,000 for an exact copy of the F.D.N.Y.’s Hazardous Materials Company One’s apparatus when in the event of a terrorist event the F.B.I. will be in charge coordinating the emergency services and not the N.Y.P.D.?  

There are many ways to increase revenue. Increase fees for inspections, permits and certification. Increase the fines charged for violations of the city’s fire code.  Charge businesses for responses to false alarms.  Charge for hazardous materials incident responses and equipment used, as is allowed by federal law. 

I can’t imagine that I am the first one to suggest that these closings are a bad idea but seriously Mayor Bloomberg, can you honestly say that closing Engine Company 4, 161 and 271 and ladder 53 at night given the potential ramifications is the only alternative?  Putting lives at risk so that each city department can share equally in the budget cutting process does not make sense.  
Barton Fendelman    

Uncertain on bike lanes

To The Editor:
I don’t own a car, but I assume if I did, I might be upset that the longer the buses, the less parking spots there are.

As a city dweller who does not travel by bicycle, I am not so sure I am excited about all the construction on our streets for the bicycle rider.

I will have to pay more for my bus ride. I already pay some M.T.A. tax on other services just to supplement the M.T.A., and my city is in a financial bind. So make a bike lane, do what you must, but why spend dollars to build all these traffic islands here and there for the bike lanes? One day there will be a snowstorm or emergency and nobody will be able to move left or right because someone will be tripping over an island — but that is not my argument right now.

You gave them a bike lane, well make them abide by the traffic laws. It’s a red light and you stop. Also require bikers to use a light. At dusk, in the dark, I look into the street before crossing and I’ve got the light, and suddenly there is a cyclist upon me, whom I couldn’t see since he didn’t have a light and he doesn’t think he has to stop.
Phyllis Unroch

Take a stand, pols

To The Editor:
Here at Southbridge Towers, the beleaguered middle class have come to the crossroad. There are those who are fighting to leave the Mitchell-Lama program and those of us who believe in holding on to our middle-class status, which will be lost by privatizing.

The farsighted politicians who sponsored Mitchell-Lama housing were resolved to hold onto affordable homes for the middle class with a successful program for the people in this state, and not meant for it to be a stepping stone to apocryphal riches. If it becomes a lost cause those hardest hit will be the middle class and already endangered folk in this crippled economy.

Where are today’s politicians to help in this essential non-selfish cause? The pols cannot be neutral in this. Neutrality when it means people’s lives is cowardice. There’s no place for the timorous pols, who think to protect their political hide. If you do, you will from hear from your constituents about your forked tongue rhetoric in your campaign.

We who reached middle class do not want a reversal in our lives or a loss in our life style.

We are appealing to the elected officials, the mayor, senators, congressional representatives not to forget us, those living in the Mitchell-Lama co-ops. If you do not try to help us you could be replaced in the next election.
Geraldine Lipschutz




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