June 24, By Jason Cohen
Dutch Kills residents are fighting to get their FDNY Engine Company back.
Residents are calling for its return after it closed 14 years ago, saying it is needed since the population continues to grow.
They held a rally Friday along with elected leaders, firefighters and union officials demanding the City reopen Engine 261 located at 37-20 29th Street.
Budget cuts under Mayor Michael Bloomberg forced the engine company, responsible for putting water on flames, to move out in 2003. Ladder Company 116, which handles rescues, remains.
The firehouse is located within blocks of Ravenswood Houses, Kaufman Astoria Studios, the Museum of the Moving Image and several schools.
“We must do all we can to support our City’s bravest and keep our growing community safe from the devastating power of a fire,” Van Bramer said. “Engine Company 261 gave the people of this neighborhood comfort for over a century, and today we call for it to be reopened so that our City’s brave firefighters can once again provide life-saving help to the rapidly growing population in Long Island City and Dutch Kills.”
Since Engine Company 261 closed, more than 12,000 new housing units have been built in Long Island City, with another 20,000-plus in the works, according to data from the Long Island City Partnership.
“Firehouses are vital to our communities,” said Gerard Fitzgerald, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. “When our neighborhoods grow and develop, fire protection and the amount of first responders in the area should also increase. “Engine Company 261 should be re-opened today as it provides a much-needed level of safety and protection to a booming population in Long Island City.”