Image: Firefighters hose down an elephant
AP via Uniformed Firefighters Assoc.
New York City firefighters spray a Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey elephant down in New York on Thursday, Sept. 3.
updated 9/3/2009 8:37:34 PM ET 2009-09-04T00:37:34

A firefighters union says a New York City engine company had to close its firehouse for 30 minutes to bathe a circus elephant on city orders.

The Uniformed Firefighters Association says Brooklyn's Engine Company 245 didn't want to participate in the photo opportunity with circus elephant Suzie, part of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show in Coney Island. But it says city officials ordered the engine company to participate.

The firehouse closed Wednesday while four firefighters and an officer went to scrub Suzie. About 10 firefighters stayed behind.

The fire department says firefighters were only supposed to spray the elephant when it walked by the firehouse and weren't ordered to close. It says closing the firehouse was a mistake.

It hasn't said if any emergency calls came in while the firehouse was closed.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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