Residents, officials call for reopening firehouse in growing Queens neighborhood

Residents of Long Island City, Queens, say it is time to reopen a firehouse that closed over a decade ago because they fear the neighborhood has grown too quickly for current firehouses to keep up. Firefighters and City Council members rallied Friday to reopen Engine Company 261.

The engine company controversially closed in 2003. It was one of five throughout the city that fell victim to budget cuts under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But that was 14 years ago and a lot has changed since then in Long Island City. Engine 261 is in the heart of the fastest-growing neighborhood in Long Island City: Dutch Kills.

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer pointed out that the population of western Queens has increased by tens of thousands. He said that the response time has increased by about 35 seconds, which can mean life or death for someone trapped in a burning home.

"The department recognizes that Long Island City is a burgeoning community," an FDNY spokesperson said in a statement. "The Fire Department is dedicated to maintaining the most efficient network of fire mitigation resources, and we continue to adapt our locations with the changing landscape and population of New York City."