NEW YORK - (AP) - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is defending aproposal to close 20 city fire companies as a budget-cuttingmeasure.

On his weekly WOR Radio show on Friday, the mayor saidfirefighting has changed over the last century. He says most housestoday are not made of wood, have sprinklers and "hopefully" smokedetectors.

Bloomberg says that since the 1940s, 20 firehouses have closedin Lower Manhattan. And despite concerns, he says, response timesand fire deaths are at a new low.

On Thursday, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was among thosecriticizing the planned closings. According to the Daily News, hesays it's an inappropriate budget negotiating pawn.

Bloomberg says sacrifices have to be made somewhere.

The city has six weeks to finalize its budget.

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