Published in the Staten Island Advance on June 13, 2018
CITY HALL – After years of being the only borough without its own specialized FDNY squad company, Staten Island is on its way to getting a $3.1 million boost to get a company of its own.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson agreed to set aside $3.1 million in the city’s fiscal 2019 budget, at the urging of Councilmen Joe Borelli (R-South Shore), Minority Leader Steve Matteo (R-Mid Island), and Borough President James Oddo for the new company.
Squad company members are trained at expert levels to respond to hazardous material and special rescue operations.
The money will fund the technical training for a five-person specialized company and about 30 new squad members, a brand new pumper-rescue truck, and auxiliary equipment needed to upgrade an existing Staten Island engine company into a specialized squad company.
“We have come a long way since the last administration which seemed so intent on closing firehouses on Staten Island. This is the oldest and most basic city service and now with this addition our borough is on par with the other four,” said Councilman Borelli, chair of the City Council’s Fire and Emergency Services Committee.
Borelli said the funding will remain in the budget for the next six years.
ISLAND RELIED ON BROOKLYN
Because the Island had no squad company of its own, for years the FDNY Squad 1 in Park Slope was tasked with responding to emergencies on Staten Island.
But the Park Slope squad would often show up late to the borough late due to traffic on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Verrazano Bridge. By the time they would arrive, fires were usually under control and the squad was no longer needed.
“Despite a population boom and extensive changes in the built environment, the size and composition of fire companies on Staten Island has remained basically unchanged for decades. That is why we fought so hard for our own Squad Company. Currently, Squad 1 in Park Slope responds to emergencies in Staten Island, and while they do a wonderful job, we all know how current traffic patterns affect travel times between Brooklyn and Staten Island,” Matteo said.
Squad companies operate as an engine company, truck company, and rescue company for structure fires all rolled into one. There are currently seven squad companies operating in New York City, but none of them were located on Staten Island.
“We highly value the training and expertise of our Special Operations units, and the creation of a Squad on Staten Island will fill a long-standing need to maintain heightened capabilities on the island at all times,” Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro, said in a statement. “Once up and running, the Squad will respond to hundreds of serious emergencies each year with additional skills to enhance and improve the excellent work of all our firefighting units in protecting people and property on Staten Island.”