ALBANY TO DONATE FIREHOUSE POLE TO BROADWAY PLAY ENGINE 10 EQUIPMENT TO JOIN 'HIZZONER!'

Deborah Gesensway Staff writer
Section: LOCAL,  Page: B5

Date: Sunday, October 16, 1988

Actor Tony LoBianco's Emmy-award winning one- man show about the flamboyant former New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia has roots in Albany. Now, a bit of Albany is about to become an integral part of LoBianco's play "Hizzoner!"


A 24-foot-tall, brass slide pole from the recently vacated Engine 10 firehouse in Pine Hills will join the props on the "Hizzoner!" set, which is expected to head for Broadway after another Albany run in early January. "It's just another first for the Albany Fire Department," said Chief James Larson. "This is our claim to fame."


Mayor Thomas M. Whalen III said he was contacted by LoBianco when the actor heard that Albany was closing several of its historic firehouses. Whalen told members of a neighborhood association this week that LoBianco said he was searching for an old-fashioned fire pole for his set.


"A piece of Albany may end up on Broadway," Whalen said.


Neither LoBianco nor Patricia Snyder, director of the Empire State Institute for the Performing Arts at the Egg where "Hizzoner!" has been produced, could be reached for comment.


Larson said the department has found itself lately with no need for the historic poles that firefighters for decades have slid down to get from their second-floor bunk rooms into the first-floor truck areas.


Last month, Engine 10 vacated its home in the century-old red- brick firehouse on the triangle of land at West Lawrence Street between Madison and Western avenues. The company moved into a new one-story building on Brevator Street, where there is no need for a pole.


"OSHA (the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration) frowns upon poles," Larson said. "To tell you the truth, I can do without them, too."


Jokingly, he described a firefighter's view of the poles: "It's the most thrilling experience in the world. At 3 a.m. when that alarm goes off, you hit that pole and you're flying through the air."


Scheduled to be replaced by two modern, one-story fire stations in Arbor Hill and the South End are the stations at Lark and Third streets, at Clinton Avenue and Hawk Street, at Broadway and North Ferry Street and at Fourth Avenue and Franklin Street.


Larson said there are slide poles in the other four historic stations the city is planning to close in the next year or two, and the department is planning to hold onto them for its archives.


"We want to have a pole to show kids how it used to be done," Larson said.