He had a bad case of code rage.
A fed-up fire chief took matters into his own hands last week and barged into a Bronx flophouse that city inspectors had been trying to access for years -- and then wound up duking it out with the enraged slumlords.
FDNY Deputy Chief Joseph Woznica -- the point man on a citywide crackdown on illegal apartment conversions -- took his frustration out on the door to 669 Jefferson Place Wednesday, kicking and pounding on it after the owners refused to allow him and four city inspectors in.
Witnesses said the inspectors pulled out a crowbar-like tool and popped the lock to the building -- which is legally allowed to house up to two families, but where, witnesses said, at least seven apartments had been created for up to 10 tenants each who pay $600 a month.
FDNY officials denied force was used on the outside door.
Once in the vestibule, Chief Woznica encountered another locked door, with William and Larry Ambrister huddled behind it, the FDNY said.
When one of the brothers cracked the door to peek outside, broad-shouldered Woznica barreled through.
That set off the punch-on-duty show, with Larry Ambrister punching Woznica in the face, police sources said.
The veteran chief, 56, retaliated by smashing him in the nose, said FDNY sources.
William Ambrister, 57, was arrested at the scene and charged with obstruction and harassment. His 55-year-old brother, who has three prior arrests -- two for assault -- fled before cops arrived.
The building at 669 Jefferson Place was vacated, padlocked and boarded up.
Republished with permission of The New York Post.