Borough President Vito Fossella announced that he is continuing the brushfire permit program, in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Conservation, which will allow residents in several Staten Island neighborhoods to create a firebreak around their homes.
“This is really all about safety and protecting the homeowners and the firefighters,” said Borough President Fossella during a press conference in South Beach with Council Member David Carr and FDNY Deputy Chief Brian Gorman. “Throughout Staten Island’s history, we’ve had some severe brush fires and one of the reasons is nature -- the phragmites you see here. So, years ago, what we started doing was allowing homeowners to obtain a permit to take care of these phragmites to basically prevent the fire from occurring or to prevent the damage. It’s one of those things where we’re working with nature, not against nature.”
Phragmites, an invasive species of vegetation, are prevalent across the borough, but the neighborhoods of Great Kills, Oakwood Beach, New Dorp Beach, Ocean Breeze, and South Beach have a particularly high rate of this vegetation growing directly next to private homes. Phragmites in dry seasons are fuel for brush fires and pose a hazard to surrounding properties.
“Since this program has been implemented, not one five-alarm fire has started and we have not lost one home to a brushfire,” said Borough President Fossella.
FDNY Deputy Chief Gorman said the program makes it safer for firefighters.
“We operate on risk versus reward and when a home is endangered our risk goes up because the firefighters are going to take a lot more chances,” said FDNY Chief Gorman. “So, when you apply for these permits, it helps significantly. This is our busy time of year for brushfires. We run five brushfire units every day and it’s very impactful when you can cut down the risk for the Fire Department. We appreciate it.”
Residents living in Great Kills, Oakwood Beach, New Dorp Beach, Ocean Breeze, and South Beach can apply for the permit on the Borough Hall website, by email, or by fax at 718-816-2060.