The fire trucks of Ladder Company 161 in Coney Island have a modern version of Steeplechase Park’s Funny Face and amusement rides as part of their insignia. Their slogan is “The Best Ride in Coney Island.” Now the ladder company, which opened in 1927 and is as old as the Cyclone roller coaster, is on the Mayor’s list of 20 New York City fire companies to be closed in July due to City budget cuts.
On Sunday, June 12, at 12 noon, City Councilman Domenic Recchia, Congressman Jerrold Nadler and Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny will join members of the community at a rally to save Ladder Company 161. The rally is being held outside the firehouse at 2929 West 8th Street off Surf Avenue.
Ever since the first Steeplechase Park burned down in 1907, Coney Island’s infamous fires have been in the headlines. Last May, the fire that destroyed Coney Island Arcade at Bowery and West 12th Street was the no. 1 story of “Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island News Stories of 2010.” . The arcade was a total loss and has since been demolished, but it was the only building damaged by the fire thanks to the fine work and fast response time of FDNY 161 and 153.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the fire that destroyed Dreamland Park. On May 27, 1911, the signal ‘TWO NINES’ was sounded for the first time in Brooklyn, calling out 33 companies and 250 men in a race to Coney Island.
“It’s tragic and ironic that the city is cutting a vital Coney Island ladder company on the 100th anniversary of the Dreamland fire, one of the worst disasters to strike a community known for deadly fires,” said historian Charles Denson. “Ladder Company 161 is essential to a neighborhood that’s jammed full of high-rises, has 15 million visitors a year, and has towering amusement rides that can only be reached by high ladders in an emergency.”
Update, June 12th, 8:40 pm…
Coney Island photographer and resident Bruce Handy attended today’s rally and sent this link to his flickr slide show. All of the local pols were there. In addition to Councilman Recchia and Congessman Nadler, we noticed State Senator Diane Savino, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and several members of Community Board 13.
Update, June 14th…
The Brooklyn Eagle reports that “Ladder Co. 161 is the only tower ladder in Coney Island and one of only a dozen 95-foot ladders citywide. It is responsible for 2.5 miles of beach, businesses and a major concentration of high-rises, many of which house seniors in an isolated area.”
Update, June 29th…
DNAinfo reports “The City Council voted in favor of a $66 billion budget deal Wednesday that saves teachers’ jobs and prevents fire company closures, but forces other cuts across the board.”