New York Daily News

December 8, 2002

Mike aide: 8 firehouses to close

By MICHAEL SAUL
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU

Mayor Bloomberg's top deputy blasted the Fire Department yesterday as a bastion of inefficiency and made it abundantly clear that the administration will move forward with plans to close eight firehouses.

"The Fire Department is a place where every efficiency that's been done, I think, in the last 20, 30 years has been a total failure," said Marc Shaw, deputy mayor for operations, during a daylong budget conference sponsored by the Citizens Budget Commission.

Last month, the administration and the City Council compromised and forestalled the closing of eight firehouses, creating a blue-ribbon commission to study the issue. Shaw called the move a "political punt," suggesting the closings - which would save the city $2.5 million - were inevitable.

Councilwoman Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn), chairwoman of the Council's Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee, said she disagreed.

"They're saving lives," she said, adding that the closings may not be "as inevitable as Deputy Mayor Shaw says."

Just hanging around

In unusually blunt language, Shaw said firefighters spend the most of their day doing nothing.

"The prior administration decided, 'Well, since we can't get these guys to be any more productive in fighting fires' - since they only fight fires 5% of the time, they're hanging around doing nothing the other 95% of the time - 'let's find other things for them to do,'" he said.

FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon said, "Members of the department are the best at what they do - saving lives and property. We'll continue to do that while actively working to find ways to do more with less."

A Uniformed Firefighters Association spokesman didn't return calls for comment.

The deputy mayor also took aim at the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, lambasting the union for blocking the administration's proposal to alter workdays. The administration proposed cutting the daily shift by 20 minutes and adding 10 days a year.

"The PBA made a decision that we don't want to be productive in New York City right now," Shaw said. "[We'll] hopefully come back to the PBA when they're more rational."

PBA spokesman Patrick Lynch said through a spokesman, "It's irrational to suggest that it's productive to put police officers in danger 10 extra times a year."