Firehouse Rats Cause for Alarm

Firefighters in one Queens firehouse don't just smell a rat - they hear and see them, too. Rats and mice have infested the Engine 298, Ladder 127 and Battalion 50 station house, and firefighters there are intent on winning the battle against their creepy counterparts.

"We're the 'Hurricanes' - we don't want to change our nickname to 'Mouse House' or the 'Rat Farm,' " said a firefighter.

But the fight against the snap-tailed set isn't always smooth at the Hillside Avenue and 153rd Street house.

Their exterminator told them the problem was so bad, even a cat wouldn't put a damper on the rodents' visits around the kitchen, the garage, the house watch, the utility room and the upstairs lockers.

The Bravest are trying to catch the rodents with rat and squirrel traps - using Skippy peanut butter and oatmeal as bait.

The FDNY made some helpful changes right after The Post visited their house back in early March, fixing a door, replacing missing grates and putting down more traps. Still, the rats are roaming.

Just last week, the men caught a dozen rats, according to one firefighter. "The problem's not as bad as it was, but it's bad enough," he said.

The FDNY said they were committed to getting rid of the rodents in the Jamaica house, and there are exterminators visiting every firehouse, including 50 others throughout the city that the UFA claims have been plagued by mice, rats or both.

The union included the rodent problem as part of an 118-page report, outlining health and safety issues that the FDNY has "chosen to ignore."

"All complaints about firehouses are being addressed," said FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon. "More money has gone into repairing, renovating firehouses in recent years than ever."

Other firehouse issues having a "negative impact" on firefighters included electrical problems, plumbing problems, broken appliances, poor ventilation and structural problems, such as "paint peeling, ceiling and roofs failing," according to an April 24 letter sent to an assistant deputy commissioner of the FDNY's Building Maintenance Division.