FARGO star Steve Buscemi has spoken out against proposals to close many of New York City's fire stations.

Before becoming a Hollywood actor, Buscemi was a New York City firefighter from 1980 to 1984 - and he continues to be a vocal and high-profile supporter.

And he joined about 50 demonstrators on Saturday (19APR03) to protest a cost-cutting proposal to close eight firehouses.

Referring to the 343 firefighters killed in the 11 September (01) terrorist attacks, he says, "I think it's a slap in the face, after all that they've done and all that they continue to do. They're just starting to come back.

"This is just terrible - a terrible message to firefighters because they want to save $10 million or $11 million a year."

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, seeking to close a $3.4 billion (GBP2.2 billion) budget deficit, has proposed eliminating eight firehouses and said last week at least 30 more may have to be closed if the city does not receive state or federal financial assistance.