FDNY officials told residents of 11th Street, where a third firetruck will soon join two already housed on the block, that the agency is doing its best to ensure that the block can live with the new guests — even to the point of jeopardizing area response times.
Residents of the firehouse block — between Seventh and Eighth avenues — came to last week’s Park Slope Civic Council meeting to protest the relocation of Engine 239 to 11th Street, which is already home to Engine 220 and Ladder 122.
But FDNY officials kept their cool under fire from a barrage of questions, calmly explaining that the agency had already made significant concessions to make the process as painless as possible.
“We usually house visiting apparatus in a cage on the front of the firehouse,” explained FDNY spokesman Paul Geoghegan. “This time we’re going to piggyback two of the trucks inside the firehouse so that one is in front of the other.”
Geoghegan admitted that this concession to the neighbors might lengthen the companies’ response times if one truck has to wait for another truck to be moved. “It’s going to make things complicated for us, but we’re going to do it,” he said.
The move is set to happen in six to eight weeks and will last 12 to 15 months.
Residents complained that the third truck would add noise and endanger the safety of the children. Some even asked for firefighters to refrain from blowing their sirens when on the block.
Geoghegan explained that the sirens, while annoying to the neighbors, are a safety feature that saves lives.
“We’ve tried having [firemen] come off the truck to direct traffic,” said Geoghegan, “and I can’t tell you how many guys have gotten hit by cars that way.”
Many 11th Street residents remained skeptical, but Geoghegan promised to keep the lines of communication open.
“Moving companies like this is never pleasant for anyone,” he said, explaining that the firemen don’t enjoy the changes either.
“It’s like having your in-laws stay with you. But we’re trying to make things as convenient as possible for everyone.”