New York Fire Companies to Stay Closed Despite Budget Surplus

The six firehouses closed last May will stay closed says the city fire department, despite having $2 million more in its preliminary budget than in 2003.

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta told City Council members that the surplus will be spent on updating the city fire code, hiring data entry operators to run a computerized building inspection program, and paying for a fire company assigned to Governor's Island.

The fire department's 2005 budget is expected to be $1.12 billion. Scoppetta said the department also expects to increase its revenues by increasing its collection of ambulance transport fees and fire code violation fines.

Not all council members agreed with the commissioner's comments.

Councilman Davis Yassky, whose Brooklyn district is home to one of the fire companies closed last year, questioned why the surplus isn't being put towards reopening the houses.