Jul 17, 2009 Ami Olson Uncategorized
When officers with the Camillus Fire Department approached the village board a few months ago with a request for a new truck, it was the firefighters’ turn to take advantage of the consolidation buzz.
Camillus’ Engine 4, a pumper, and Rescue 3, a heavy rescue apparatus, were both purchased in 1996 and are approaching their 20th birthday, the point at which the value of fire equipment drops dramatically and maintenance costs often skyrocket.
Rather than replace both full-sized vehicles, the department has since 2007 been planning a two-for-one deal, purchasing a rescue pumper to replace the two aging giants.
A rescue pumper is a scaled-down pumper combined with rescue apparatus, allowing firefighters to address a broader range of situations with a more compact, more maneuverable vehicle. While its smaller stature limits the amount of rescue and fire equipment it can hold, many local departments believe the benefits of the more nimble and versatile rescue pumper outweigh its shortcomings.
Fire departments shopping for a rescue pumper point out that it essentially combines two vital pieces of apparatus into one, and would allow departments to downsize their fleets, saving money on fuel, insurance, and maintenance in the long run.
Camillus Fire Chief Scott Binns also said it’s a matter of functionality.
“During periods of short staffing such as daytimes, you only have to get the one truck on the road rather than both a heavy rescue and an engine. And, if a heavy rescue is needed, there are several that border our district, which is 17 square miles in total,” Binns said.
The apparatus would cost the department an estimated $650,000, but would partially be funded by the resale of current vehicles and would not require a tax increase, Binns said.
Camillus isn’t the only department eyeing the new wheels.
The Elbridge Fire Department truck committee attended the Elbridge Village Board meeting Monday night to discuss their own plans to roll two soon-to-be-outdated vehicles into one.
Chief Tim Ganey said a rescue pumper could replace both Engine 1, purchased in 1993, and Rescue 5, purchased in 1995. The sales of the two vehicles would offset about half the purchase price of a rescue pumper and about $24,000 has been saved for truck purchases, but it would be up to the department and the village to raise the remaining funds, which could range from $150,000 to $200,000, depending on bids.
Both Camillus and Elbridge will need to work with their village boards to come to a decision, no firm plans have been made for purchases in either district.
But what presents itself as a benefit for one department could be a disadvantage for a neighboring fire company.
Randy Pilot, chief of the Marcellus Fire Department, said a rescue pumper was something the truck committee “toyed with,” but when it came to replacing the 20-year-old pumper Engine 3, only a full-sized pumper would suffice.
“We looked at the number of accidents, the number of fire calls and the types of accidents that we do … We still need the actual full sized pumper,” Pilot said.
Because the Marcellus department faces more car wrecks than house fires, due to the three highways running through town, the fleet already boasts a heavy rescue vehicle stocked with more specialized equipment for vehicle extrication than a compact rescue pumper could carry.
Additionally, reducing the water capacity of Engine 3’s 1,000-gallon tank to a potentially 500- or 750-gallon tank of a rescue pumper would mean a lower ISO rating for the department – and higher home owner insurance rates for taxpayers, Pilot said.
The new pumper would cost $335,000. Pilot noted that the department already has those funds available and the purchase would not require a tax increase for residents.
But, like Camillus and Elbridge, Marcellus can’t put an order in for the new apparatus until a public hearing is held.