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Apparently, The News now fancies itself an expert in firefighting, as twice in one week it has called for reductions in the Buffalo Fire Department. First, you endorsed the closing of the fireboat, and now you have given your blessing to Commissioner Shanks' plans to close three firehouses.

In the March 26 editorial, the closings are justified by citing statistics which purportedly show that fire calls have declined 34 percent over the past 15 years.

While certainly fewer buildings and the use of smoke detectors have contributed to this decline, the primary reason has been the elimination of alarm boxes from street corners. Thus, there are fewer opportunities for pulling false alarms.

Your paper also endorses Commissioner Shanks' claim that the elimination of firehouses will not adversely affect response time and effectiveness. But common sense dictates that this claim is clearly erroneous. In those districts where the cuts are planned, response time will increase.

If Engine 28 is closed, the next nearest companies will have to come from either Broadway near Wick, or Bailey and Clinton. It will take more than three minutes for these companies to reach the farthest recesses of the Lovejoy district now served by Engine 28.

And as everyone knows, except apparently The News and Commissioner Shanks, those lost minutes of response time are critical for heart attack victims and people trapped in burning buildings. The taxpayers in this district will suffer!

The News also has neglected to address the politics involved in the house closings. Under this proposed plan, Engine 30 on Seneca and Southside will be spared from the budget ax.

Is it just a coincidence that this company serves the district that Council committee chairman Brian Higgins represents and where Mayor Griffin and Commissioner Shanks reside?

Meanwhile, Engine 18 on Fillmore near Genesee, which serves the busiest fire district in the city, is slated for closing. The only sense that this makes is political.

JOSEPH P. FAHEY
Buffalo

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