Lawmakers are accusing the FDNY of hosing taxpayers and burning through cash by requesting new kitchens for firehouses — at a cost of $1.2 million apiece.
The hefty price tag even stunned members of the normally spendthrift New York City Council, who treated it as a five-alarm blaze during a Friday budget hearing on the fire department’s spending plan.
“That has to be a typo,” said Brooklyn Councilman Kalman Yeger.
When FDNY officials said the pricey ask wasn’t a mistake, Yeger responded, “I have the experience of four years [on the Council] and know when I’m being scammed.”
The councilman said the cost reminded him of the $2 million the Parks Department paid to construct a bathroom at Gravesend Park in his district.
“The stuff has to be gold-plated for it to come to that kind of money,” Yeger said. “These numbers are just not real.”
Queens Councilman Robert Holden said the request was an astronomical figure for kitchens in firehouses that are just a “little larger than household kitchens” and serve five to 11 firefighters per shift.
Calling the $1.2 million per kitchen “out of line,” he asked FDNY officials, “What kind of equipment is going into this? What are we doing to lower prices here? “
Holden blasted the “wasteful spending” during an interview following the hearing.
“I want to do everything I can for New York’s bravest. We certainly want our firefighters to have what they need, but we’re tired of being hosed. If the city is saying these kitchens cost $1.2 million each, their pants are on fire,” he told The Post.
It’s unclear exactly how many firehouses the FDNY is seeking to upgrade with new kitchens, but it is believed to be a handful.
The department provided a breakdown in documents to the Council 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 up a brand new kitchen.
- $120,000 for new kitchen appliances.
- $600,000 for the cost of materials such as fiber optics, conduit, counters, wood, flooring, and cabinets.
- $350,000 for labor hours to complete the work.
Still, Councilwoman Joann Ariola, chairwoman of the committee that oversees the FDNY/Emergency Services, called the cost “outrageous” and an example of “excessive spending.”
She said she spoke to the owner of a large restaurant in her Queens district who said it shouldn’t cost more than $100,000 to build a whole new industrial kitchen that serves many more people than a firehouse.
A restaurateur contacted by The Post said, “This is thievery.”
The eatery owner pointed to webstaurantstore.com to look at prices for higher-end industrial grade kitchen appliances used by large restaurants that serve substantially more customers than a firehouse or massive frozen food factories.
Outfitting a kitchen with a counter gas and flat top stove ($18,000); a three door refrigerator ($35,000); a three door freezer ($35,000), an Amsul exhaust and fire prevention system ($25,000 to $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 to $30,000) would cost a total $168,000.
FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh and top aides defended the $1.2 million estimated cost, noting the typical firehouse is 92 years old.
“They are sort of industrial grade kitchens. They are a little different than what you would put up in a home and these costs involve equipment and labor,” Kavanagh told skeptical legislators.
Kavanagh insisted to Yeger that “you’re definitely not” getting scammed.
“There’s no comparison between a private home and a firehouse. It’s much more akin to an industrial kitchen you see in a restaurant or factory…It’s meant to last for a very long time,” the commissioner said.
FDNY officials also said when new kitchens are put in, the department may have to do asbestos abatement or other upgrades because of the age of the buildings.
The council members said the FDNY listed the $1.2 million figure for other projects as well, drawing more skepticism.
The department said new generators in firehouses would also cost $1.2 million.
The requests for new kitchens in some firehouses were not included in Mayor Eric Adams’ capital budget.
The FDNY urged council members to add the money to the budget during negotiations, particularly lawmakers who represent districts where firehouses need new kitchens.
“I don’t blame the mayor. I’d be shocked if the mayor knew about this level of spending,” Yeger said.