Brooklyn’s Engine Co. 204 was one of the oldest firehouses in New York City, and its firefighters were among the first to arrive at the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks, where they lost a fire truck but no men. On Sunday, the city closed it down, along with five other stations, despite protests from crowds gathered outside the firehouses. Protesters locked arms to form a human chain around Engine Co. 204, then rushed inside to occupy the building, according to the New York Post. Twelve of them were arrested there, including actor Steve Buscemi, who served as a New York fireman from 1980 to 1984, along with a state representative and a city councilman. Those 12, as well as eight protesters from another firehouse closing, were charged with criminal tresspass and disorderly conduct.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg blamed the closings on the city’s post-9/11 budget crisis, saying the move would save more than $6 million per year. ”We have to balance the budget by law. There just isn’t enough money and the chiefs very carefully chose six engine companies that they thought we could do without,” he told the Post. He also said that the closings would cause residents only a minute delay in emergency response time. But Buscemi said the city was compromising safety. ”If your house was on fire, would you wait one minute to call the Fire Department?” the ”Fargo” star said to the New York Daily News.
Buscemi and the other 19 protesters were released later in the day. Each faces a possible 90 days in jail and a $250 fine. They’re due in court on June 30.