Engine 44 closes for renovations


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  • Neighborhood dog Amelia Pudding lives across the street from Engine 44 and got treats from firefighters. Photo: Erin McElhinney




  • Engine 44 on East 75th Street. Photo: Christian Castro



NEIGHBORHOOD

Firehouse on East 75th Street undergoes upgrades, firefighters temporarily housed nearby

By Mickey Kramer

Anyone walking past the Engine 44 firehouse on East 75th Street last week bore witness to an odd sight for a couple of days: non-FDNY personnel packing up large moving trucks. Engine 44 has closed temporarily and will be undergoing a total renovation that will take a year to complete, according to FDNY spokesperson Frank Dwyer.

Engine 44 opened at the current location on April 1, 1881 and has remained there continually since. Dwyer says the firehouse will receive a floor replacement, new electrical service, an emergency generator, a new kitchen, solar hot water, along with mechanical, electrical and plumbing upgrades. The changes are part of the city's $305 million plan to renovate fire stations throughout NYC.

During the scheduled renovation, Engine 44 will be housed at Engine 39/Ladder 16 on East 67th Street. Dwyer explains that “the fire companies are placed in the nearest neighboring firehouse and all companies in the battalion, division and borough, as well as fire dispatchers are aware. Redundancies for response are in place to ensure there is no disruption in response or service to the community.”

“This is standard procedure citywide when we have a firehouse undergoing extensive renovation.” Dwyer says.

Along with residents and business owners, another group affected by the closure will be the neighborhood dogs who were greeted warmly and fed treats by many of the firefighters. Erin McElhinney, 37, who lives across the street from Engine 44, says, “they are just the best neighbors ... always giving treats to my dog Amelia Pudding and all the neighborhood dogs.” On a more serious note, she adds: “Having them across the street from me definitely makes me feel safer in my neighborhood and apartment. They will be missed.”

John McCormack, 57, lives two blocks away on 73rd Street and was surprised to learn of the closure. “Living nearby [a firehouse] makes you sleep easier, but I understand technological advances may necessitate the need for changes.” McCormack says he used to take his daughters to visit the firehouse. He calls the firefighters “wonderful guys,” and says he hopes for “a speedy renovation.”

For anyone living near the temporarily shuttered building, fear not, says Dwyer. “There will be no interruption in service or protection to the community,” he says. “The members of Engine 44 will continue to be a visible presence in the neighborhood as they respond to emergencies, inspect buildings and greet their neighbors.”



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