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Trash compactor installed in Bayside engine company

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For St. Patrick’s Day, the guys at Engine Co. 313/Ladder Company 164 in Douglaston always have corned beef and cabbage, Fire Lt. Tom Finnerty of Ladder Company 164 said.

This week they were having Philly cheesesteak.

“Anything and everything” goes when it comes to dinner, Finnerty said.

Now a dinner’s remains can go safely down the drain.

The Douglaston firehouse, along with a Bayside firehouse, became the first in the city last week to have a garbage disposal installed after a Wisconsin-based company donated two units to the FDNY.

Because of environmental concerns about food waste ending up on the city’s shorelines through the sewer system, garbage disposals were illegal in the city residences until 1997, said Clint Taylor, a manager for InSinkErator, the Wisconsin company.

City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) presided over the installation of the 23-pound stainless steel unit at Engine Co. 313/Ladder Company 164 on 244th Street in Douglaston Friday morning. Engine Co. 306/Ladder Co. 152 on 214th Place in Bayside was the second firehouse to get a food waste disposal unit, or “garbage grinder,” later that day.

As Weprin, several representatives from the city’s plumbing industry and InSinkErator, the Racine, Wis. company that donated the garbage grinder, talked up the machine, one firefighter was moved to join in the conversation.

“If that thing can survive a firehouse, it can survive anything,” quipped Lt. Thomas Hodges of Engine Co. 313.

Since closing the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island last year, the city has been forced to ship its garbage out of state or store it in waste transfer stations in places like Willets Point.

Weprin said if the garbage disposals are installed in the city’s 250 firehouses alone, it would reduce the amount and weight of the city’s current garbage loads, saving the city money on garbage carting costs. There are currently no plans to install the garbage disposals citywide.

“Hopefully, this will be a model for the entire city,” he said. The councilman said reducing the amount of food in city trash cans would also deter rodents and decrease odors.

Taylor sang the praises of the unit last week. Taylor said the tiny unit, made to fit underneath a sink in a city where apartment space is precious, was also extremely quiet.

“Food waste is 70 percent water,” he said. “So it only takes about a quart of water per operation.”

Taylor said the food broken down in the disposal goes to sewage treatment plants.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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