Arson Chief Wary Of Fire Marshal Cuts

January 10, 2003 -- The chairman of the state's Arson Board has sent a letter to Mayor Bloomberg warning against cuts in fire marshal jobs. "While we remain sensitive to the fiscal needs city and state officials struggle with, we feel the importance of pointing out the counter-effect these reductions will have on the city; affecting quality-of-life issues as well as eroding the tax base," chairman James Hannigan wrote Bloomberg on Wednesday.

The Arson Board is a statewide advisory panel of insurance, police and fire experts appointed by Gov. Pataki.

Fifty fire marshals were put on the chopping block last year as part of the Fire Department's effort to meet the budget reductions demanded of every agency by City Hall.

This week, Bloomberg asked for further reductions - including another 3 percent to the Fire Department and other uniformed agencies - to help close a $3 billion budget gap.

The Fire Department responded it would never compromise on apprehending arsonists - and a department spokesman noted that fire-related deaths are down to 1920s levels.

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