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Thread: FDNY's Rat Trap Shuttered

  1. #1
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    FDNY's Rat Trap Shuttered



    August 6, 2003 -- Queens firefighters were sent scurrying yesterday after the city condemned their firehouse, which was infested by rats the "size of cats."

    Jamaica's "Mouse House" was shut last night after the FDNY had ripped down walls and plugged holes in a failed attempt to stop the huge rats from entering.

    Engine 298, Ladder 127 and Battalion 50, all based in the building at Hillside Avenue and 153rd Street, will be moved temporarily to other companies nearby.

    Starting today, exterminators will move in with deadly weapons of mouse destruction that couldn't be employed while the building was in use.

    By the time the units move back, in six to 10 weeks, officials hope the rats will only be a memory.

    Firefighters yesterday held a press conference to share some of their grossest tales about living with the huge rodents.

    "A few months ago, we got a cat and he was doing good, chasing the rats," said one fireman who wanted to remain anonymous.

    "Then there were so many rats coming out that they started chasing the cat and we had to protect him."

    On more than one occasion, the firefighters found rats munching on their food in the kitchen.

    "We counted 16 that we killed in one day alone," said another firefighter. "We slept with our eyes open.

    "One exterminator who came said they were the largest rats she'd ever seen," he added.

  2. #2
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    FDNY's rat race

    FDNY's rat race

    Vermin force Queens firefighters to scurry


    Hundreds of rats have invaded a Queens firehouse - forcing New York's Bravest to flee from New York's Slimiest.

    Firefighters from Engine 298, Ladder Co. 127 and Battalion 50 abandoned their Jamaica quarters yesterday as officials said the firehouse will have to be gutted to flush out the vermin.

    "We thought we were winning the war initially, but later it became clear that the rats are winning the war," Assistant Chief Robert Sweeney, the FDNY's Queens borough commander, said as he stood outside the firehouse last night amid an overpowering stench.

    The rodents, some measuring 10 inches long, started moving into the firehouse at Hillside Ave. and 153rd St. in the spring, and many have survived repeated extermination attempts. Others simply crawled into the walls and ceilings and died - stinking up the 43-year-old building.

    Officials don't know where the creepy pests are coming from, but they suspect they relocated from the E and F subway lines running under Hillside Ave. or a construction site on Queens Blvd., six blocks away.

    'Hundreds of them'

    Phil McArdle, health and safety officer for the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said "hundreds of them" are scurrying about the house.

    "This firehouse is so bad the rats are fighting in the ceilings and walls," McArdle said.

    "The infestation is so bad there are entire rat families living in our firehouse," said Stephen Humensky, the union's Queens trustee, adding that he's never heard of anything like it in the FDNY's 138-year history.

    "It's like the Indianapolis 500 in there, with the rats running all over the walls and ceiling," said Humensky, who pulled a dead rat out of the Dumpster in front of the firehouse and held it up by the tail to bolster his point.

    The cash-strapped city, which recently closed several fire companies because of budget constraints, will spend thousands of dollars to save the Hillside Ave. firehouse.

    "We're going to do a complete gut job," said Sweeney.

    The gutting will begin Monday, and the firehouse could be closed for up to 10 weeks, he said.

    In the meantime, the 60 firefighters assigned there have been dispersed to three area firehouses.

    Sweeney warned that response times for calls around the firehouse will likely increase by a few seconds because of the relocations. But Humensky said, "the move is going to effect response time tremendously."

    Glad to go

    Firefighters assigned to the firehouse said they were relieved to be out of the rats' nest.

    "It's nasty," said one 17-year veteran firefighter, who requested anonymity. "We call it the Tet Offensive."

    He said firefighters killed 16 rats Thursday night and seven Monday night.

    "This is no way to live," said another firefighter who asked that his name not be published.

    "One firefighter found a dead rat caught in the manifold of his car," he added. "You can't bring this stuff home to your wife and kids."

    Sweeney said exterminators have been to the firehouse at least eight times in the last two weeks. He said FDNY brass first heard about the problem in April and moved immediately to fix it by bringing in exterminators and setting traps.

    But Humensky said the infestation has been known about since at least March and that the firehouse's walls should have been ripped into a lot sooner to root out the rodents.

    "They had to use this Band-Aid approach because of the budget cuts," Humensky said. "Had the department taken more proactive steps, we never would have gotten to this point."

    News of the firehouse rat outbreak came just days after a Daily News special report revealed the city was losing ground in the battle against rats.

    Despite increased Health Department inspections and extermination efforts, the city's rat population has grown to an estimated 56 million.

    With Jonathan Lemire

    Originally published on August 6, 2003

  3. #3
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    Firefighters flea-ing vermin

    Firefighters flea-ing vermin


    It's a rat race at several city firehouses - not just the one shut down by a plague of rodents in Queens.

    A rat rampage was so bad at a Sunset Park, Brooklyn, firehouse that the firefighters got fleas last month.

    "The whole firehouse had fleas. Guys were scratching all day long, and we sent the blankets out to the laundromat," said Firefighter Mike Triglianos, 37.

    The department had to tear up the kitchen to get the rodents out of the walls at 5011 Seventh Ave. - the former home of shuttered Engine 278, now temporarily housing another company.

    Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said the problem came from a shed in the back that has been destroyed.

    At a Flatbush firehouse on Rogers Ave., the Bravest have surrendered to the scampering scourge.

    "We don't try to kill them anymore, we co-mingle," said an eight-year veteran at Engine 249, Ladder 113's firehouse - nicknamed "the rat house."

    The firefighters have emblazoned their problem on a 3-foot-high black, red and gold neon sign: "Forever Rats Camp Rogers Rats," and they wear patches and T-shirts with a rat logo.

    The Uniformed Firefighters Association says mice, rats, roaches and other vermin infest 62 firehouses. Scoppetta acknowledged that 10 houses have a rodent problem. With almost 300 fire department buildings citywide, critters are a fact of life that regular extermination mostly keeps in check, he said.

    Both sides agree that no infestation was greater than at Engine 298, Ladder 127 and Battalion 50 in Jamaica, Queens, where firefighters had to be evacuated Monday night. The building will be gutted to remove dead rats from the walls and ceilings.

    Scoppetta said the overhaul would run "hundreds of thousands of dollars." Repair crews and exterminators visited there 26 times since January, he said.

    Mayor Bloomberg, at an event with actress Whoopi Goldberg yesterday, called the Jamaica firehouse's problem something "we can bring under control."

    "Why don't you get some cats?" asked Goldberg.

    "Cats?" said the mayor. "I think these are New York rats."

    "I know," she replied. "But you need those ninja cats."

    With Lisa L. Colangelo

    Originally published on August 7, 2003

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