Residents Rally and 'Ghostbusters' Firehouse Is Saved

More than 100 residents joined local officials and firefighters in front of Ladder 8 on Friday in a last-ditch effort to save the firehouse from closure.
More than 100 residents joined local officials and firefighters in front of Ladder 8 on Friday in a last-ditch effort to save the firehouse from closure.

With less than a week left to save Tribeca’s “Ghostbusters” firehouse, more than 100 firefighters, residents and local officials rallied on Friday morning in front of the iconic building at North Moore and Varick streets. And echoing the 1984 film’s theme song, local officials knew just who they want residents to call: 311.

Firefighters and community leaders urged neighbors to flood the city’s helpline in an 11th hour attempt to save the firehouse, one of 20 on Mayor Bloomberg’s budget slashing hit list.


UPDATE: A budget plan worked out Friday night will allow all 20 fire houses to remain open.

Firefighters and residents say the company is essential forneighborhood safety.

“We have to send a message to our mayor loud and clear,” Councilwoman Margaret Chin told the crowd that had gathered in front of the red brick firehouse. “You cannot balance this budget by closing the firehouses. It endangers the lives of people in our community.”

The ladder company and its firehouse, made famous as the “Ghostbusters” headquarters, is one of two Lower Manhattan fire companies on the list that had been set to close by July 1 in a move by Bloomberg to save the city $55 million annually.

“This is really a call to action,” Community Board 1 chair Julie Menin told the Trib. “We wanted to let people in the neighborhood know that there is something concrete they can do. This is going to be decided in the next couple of days.”


The decision of whether or not to close Ladder 8 will be made by in the next few days, Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin said.
One of many demonstrators in front of the firshouse. The decision of whether or not to close Ladder 8 is expected to be made before July 1.

The mayor’s office had tried to assure people that safety will not be compromised if the firehouse, which the city says has one of the slower response times, closes. But firefighters from Ladder 8 and local officials like Chin and Menin contend that will be precisely what happens.

An analysis by the city estimates that first response time would increase from three minutes and 52 seconds to four minutes and 41 seconds. A second truck would arrive in six minutes, 33 seconds, up from four minutes and 41 seconds.

“If they close Ladder 8, this community will not be safe,” Chin said. “When response time goes up, people die.”

Many Tribeca residents at the rally said they were concerned for both a loss of safety and a sense of community.

“They are great with kids,” said nearby resident Ellen Blau, who recently brought her 4-year-old daughter to the firehouse after the young child began expressing anxiety about fires.

“They let her ride in the truck, taught her not to play with matches, and made her feel better,” Blau said.

Diane Lapson, president of the Independence Plaza Tenant Association, said that when she moved to the area in the 1970s, there were few residents in the area, but they had the firehouse. Now that the population has increased, fire companies are being cut.

“Are you freaking kidding me?” Lapson said, asking if the narrow brick building would be transformed into a hotel. “I think you’re nuts, Mayor Bloomberg,” she said.

The rally drew actor Steve Buscemi, a former firefighter with Ladder 55 in Little Italy, who worked several shifts at Ladder 8 in the early 1980s.

“The thing that I learned, that’s always stayed with me, is the importance of team work,” Buscemi said, echoing a commonly voiced sentiment among firefighters that firehouse closings make their jobs harder because companies—even from different neighborhoods—often work together. “Firefighters depend on each other, and we depend on firefighters.”

“They have been here for the community, they are here for this neighborhood,” Buscemi said. “They’ve always helped us, and now they need our help.”

Toward the end of Friday’s rally, the Ladder Company got sent out on a call, the crowd parting to make way for the firetruck and chanting “Save Ladder 8,” over and over as the firefighters went speeding off.

“We’re part of the community and it’s just nice to see the community is there for us,” said an off-duty Ladder 8 firefighter who didn’t want to give his name. “It’s a good feeling.”