Call Smokey the Bear! More than half of the 100 or so hydrants at Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Field either don't work or lack sufficient water pressure to adequately put out fires, FDNY sources told The New York Post.
But that didn't stop the feds earlier this month from announcing a $10 million plan to develop the nation's largest urban campground at the 1,358-acre, underused Mill Basin park.
Ida Sanoff, a Southern Brooklyn environmentalist, called the plan "insane."
"If the wildfires in Arizona and Florida have shown us anything, it’s how quickly these things can explode to epic proportions," said Sanoff, who ripped the plan for lacking public input.
"All you need is one out-of-control campfire or some boob camper flinging a lit cigarette." Floyd Bennett Field, a former Navy airfield that is now part of National Parks Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area system, currently has five campsites. The feds expect to expand to 90 campsites at the park within two years and eventually reach 600 sites.
By the July 4th weekend, 42 of the new sites will have opened, officials said. Raina Williams, a National Parks Service spokeswoman, said the hydrants’ condition “may be questionable” but claimed firefighters could draft water out of adjacent Jamaica Bay in the event of a blaze.
An FDNY source, however, said relying on “drafting” the bay – sucking the water through a hose and suction pump – to put out fires is “very impractical and too time-consuming.” "This is something you can’t nickel and dime," a source added. "They need to fix the hydrants because more campers mean more campfires and a greater risk of brush fires."
Williams said NPS anticipates expanding the park’s utilities and fire-protection features but later didn’t respond to questions about whether money is budgeted for such upgrades. Floyd Bennett Field is Brooklyn’s biggest open space, yet is still one of the nation’s lowest ranked federal parks despite the addition of the Aviator Sports complex in 2006.
The nearest firehouse is a mile away and across the Marine Parkway Bridge in the Rockaways, Queens.
New York Post - June 27, 2011 - By Rich Calder