The same miniature grinder that they used to score the PVC could just as easily cut through a link at each end of the chain at the end of the pipe securing the guy to the apparatus.
There's protesting and there's rioting. Wave your signs, chant your slogans, but interfere with public safety and that's the limit. I'd have had half the local precinct down there within 10 seconds flat to restore order and crack some skulls (and maybe throw that malcontent ringleader into Voight's "special cell" back at the 21st district).
Firehouses close, it's a fact of life. And if 87 had been crazy-busy it wouldn't have been on the chopping block. EMS runs outnumber fire calls by an order of magnitude, and all you need to do is station ambulances strategically within a defined response area, and base them out of a larger house or a hospital. In my area, EMS is a hodgepodge of paid and volly, with the local volly squad (BLS) in their own dedicated quarters, but the paramedics (ALS) are paid and are based at two local EDs, but are pretty much always on the road responding over the air to emergencies to back up BLS.
CFD is structured differently, obviously (both real-world and TV-land) but similar principles are involved. Get as much coverage in the area as you can. What will suck will be actual working fire response times, but there are fewer of them in real life, and the vast majority are after dark, meaning generally emptier streets and a quicker response than during the day.
FDNY went through this a few years ago. They closed a few neighborhood houses, consolidating them with bigger nearby houses, and reduced staffing to 4-man crews, down from 5. For anybody interested, here's a NYTimes article from 2003 that covers the issues pretty well. Times Change, Officials Say, and So Firehouses Are Closing (April 2003)