Published November 21, 2012
The New York City Department of Health has been dispatching workers to storm-ravaged areas across the five boroughs as part of an outreach to ensure that volunteers are informed on proper food-handling and other safety issues.
But the presence of health officials has caused some confusion as to where the city is drawing the line between advisement and enforcement.
Bobby Eustace, an 11-year veteran with the city's fire department tells FoxNews.com that on Sunday he and his fellow firefighters from Ladder 27 in the Bronx were issued a notice of violation for not maintaining restaurant standards in a tent set up in Breezy Point, Queens, to feed victims and first responders.
“It’s just a little ridiculous. The inspector came up and asked if we were wearing hairnets. I told him, ‘We have helmets. This is a disaster area,’” Eustace told FoxNews.com. “Then he asked is we had gloves and thermometers [for food]. I said, “Yeah, we have rectal and oral. Which one do you want?’ He wasn’t amused.”
Eustace says that the Health Department worker then checked off a list of violations at the relief tent, including not having an HVAC system and fire extinguisher.
“He told us that he might come back to see if we fixed the violations. But what can we do? We are just going to keep going until a professional catering company can help take over,” Eustace said, adding that firefighters across the city together have been contributing about $800 a day out of their own pockets to feeding victims in areas hit hard by Sandy.
But a spokeswoman for the NYC Department of Health tells FoxNews.com that workers were not sent to issue violations. Rather, it was more of an outreach to inform volunteers on the proper way to handle food.
“We went out just to give recommendations. We were only at these locations in an advisory role,” the spokeswoman said.
Apparently, that wasn't the message Eustace received.
“Maybe that’s the intent, but that’s not what happened,” he said, before adding a little humor: "Personally, I was hoping we got one of those letter grade they give restaurants. We were hoping for an A letter grade.”