POINT LOOKOUT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — They volunteer and save lives, and now firefighters on Long Island have asked communities to upgrade old, out-of-date firehouses.
But as CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday, critics said some of the new firehouses are actually more like mansions.
The big, new firehouses are paid for with taxpayers’ dollars, cut some people have said they are over the top.
“Humongous,” one resident said. “It’s beyond what’s necessary.”
Many of the 126 Long Island fire districts have recently rebuilt — in the 30,000 square-foot range. Westhampton Beach just gave the nod to a $15 million doubling of its aging firehouse.
Some residents, grateful for the brave lifesaving work of volunteer firemen, have been questioning on the Internet why headquarters have to be so big.
Internet posts ask:
“Why must LI have mansions as firehouses?”
“It’s not being ungrateful, but why is the firehouse the nicest house in town?”
“An outrage: state of the art gyms, 5-star restaurant kitchens, flat screens, marble floors, elaborate bars!”
The debate has fire officials in Point Lookout hoping there will not be a backlash. They’re asking for $7 million to replace firehouses built when ambulances were the size of vans and fire trucks had open backs.
Bigger apparatus, and mandates, mean firehouses have to be bigger. And fire officials said volunteers deserve some comforts.
“We want to offer some amenities for the guys when they’re hanging out — you know, big screen TV, a company room — but some of these big firehouses are, they’re huge,” said Lido and Point Lookout Fire Commissioner Chas Thompson.
And many residents said they don’t mind footing the bill.
“I trust that these guys know what they need, and they don’t think they would frivolously put something out there that we don’t need,” one resident said.
“The firemen deserve what they need to get the job done,” another said.
“The people who complain are not the people who get woken up at 3 in the morning to fight a fire,” a third said.
There is no gym in the Point Lookout firehouse plan – just showers and room for trucks to fight fires.
Fire officials said the $350 per year in taxes is still a bargain.
The vote on new firehouses in Point Lookout and Lido is set for July 9.
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