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FDNY is overcharging taxpayers with $1.2 million in new firehouse kitchens, Pols claim

Lawmakers are accusing the FDNY of hoseing down taxpayers and burning cash by requisitioning new kitchens for firehouses — at a cost of $1.2 million apiece.

The high price even stunned members of the normally lavish New York City Council, who treated it as a five-alarm fire during a budget hearing Friday on the fire department’s spending plan.

“That must be a typo,” said Kalman Yeger, a Brooklyn councilman.

When FDNY officials said the expensive request was not a mistake, Yeger replied, “I have four years’ experience [on the Council] and know when I’m being cheated.”

The councilman said the cost reminded him of the $2 million the Parks Department paid to build a bathroom in his county’s Gravesend Park.

“The stuff has to be gold plated to make that kind of money,” Yeger said. “Those numbers just aren’t real.”

Queens City Councilman Robert Holden said the request is an astronomical number for firehouse kitchens, which are only “slightly larger than domestic kitchens” and serve five to 11 firefighters per shift.

Brooklyn City Councilman Kalman Yeger called the high price tag for the FDNY kitchens a fraud.
Brooklyn City Councilman Kalman Yeger called the high price tag for the FDNY kitchens a fraud.
Stefan Jeremiah for the New York Post
The FDNY is requesting city funds to renovate several fire department kitchens at a cost of $1.2 million per kitchen.
The FDNY is requesting city funds to renovate several fire department kitchens at a cost of $1.2 million per kitchen.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

He called the $1.2 million per kitchen “out of line” and asked FDNY officials, “What kind of equipment is used for this? What are we doing to lower the prices here? “

Holden blasted the “wasteful spending” during a post-hearing interview.

“I want to do whatever I can for the bravest in New York. We obviously want our firefighters to have what they need, but we’re sick of being hosed down. When the city says these kitchens cost $1.2 million each, their pants are on fire,” he told the Post.

It’s unclear how many fire stations the FDNY plans to upgrade with new kitchens, but it’s believed to be a handful.

The department's breakdown claims the firehouses will need $600,000 for building materials and $120,000 for new equipment.
The department’s breakdown claims the firehouses will need $600,000 for building materials and $120,000 for new equipment.
AP Photo/Jeenah Moon

The department provided the council with a breakdown of documents to justify the $1.2 million per new kitchen:

  • $130,000 for drawings, permits, and filing and design cost fees to gut the existing kitchen and build a brand new kitchen.
  • $120,000 for new kitchen appliances.
  • $600,000 for material costs such as fiber optic cable, plumbing, counters, wood, floors and cabinets.
  • $350,000 for labor hours to complete the work.

Still, Councilor Joann Ariola, chair of the committee that oversees the FDNY/emergency services, called the cost “outrageous” and an example of “overspending.”

She said she spoke to the owner of a large restaurant in her borough of Queens, who said it couldn’t cost more than $100,000 to build a whole new industrial kitchen that would serve many more people than a fire station.

A restaurateur contacted by The Post said: “This is theft.”

The restaurant owner referred webstaurantstore.com to see prices for high-end, industrial-grade kitchen equipment used by large restaurants that serve far more customers than a fire department or giant frozen food factories.

FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh defended the controversial kitchens, claiming they were nothing like a normal renovation.
FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh defended the controversial kitchens, claiming they were nothing like a normal renovation.
Paul Martinka

Fit out a kitchen with counter gas and flat stove ($18,000); a three-door refrigerator ($35,000); a three-door freezer ($35,000), an Amsul exhaust and fire protection system ($25,000-30,000); a steam table ($5,000); a stainless steel work table ($5,000); Pots and Pans ($10,000); and plumbing and electrical work ($25,000–$30,000) would total $168,000.

FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh and top aides defended the estimated $1.2 million cost, noting that the typical firehouse is 92 years old.

“They are a kind of industrial kitchen. They’re a little different than what you would put up in a house, and that cost includes equipment and labor,” Kavanagh told skeptical lawmakers.

Kavanagh insisted to Yeger that “you are definitely not” being scammed.

Kavanagh said they are industrial kitchens, similar to those found in a restaurant or factory.
Kavanagh said they are industrial kitchens, similar to those found in a restaurant or factory.
Getty Images

“There is no comparison between a private house and a fire station. It’s more like an industrial kitchen you see in a restaurant or a factory… It’s meant to last a very long time,” said the commissioner.

FDNY officials also said when new kitchens are installed, the department may need to do asbestos removal or other modernizations due to the buildings’ age.

Council members said the FDNY also listed the $1.2 million figure for other projects, prompting more skepticism.

The department said new generators in fire stations would also cost $1.2 million.

Applications for new kitchens at some fire stations were not included in Mayor Eric Adams’ capital budget.

The FDNY urged council members to include the money in the budget during negotiations, particularly lawmakers representing counties where firehouses need new kitchens.

“I don’t blame the mayor. I would be shocked if the mayor knew about the level of spending,” Yeger said.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/08/fdny-hosing-taxpayers-with-new-1-2m-firehouse-kitchens-pols-claim/ FDNY is overcharging taxpayers with $1.2 million in new firehouse kitchens, Pols claim

JACLYN DIAZ

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