Fire departments look to reduce, reuse, rescue

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committee attended the Elbridge Village Board meeting Monday night to discuss their own plans to roll two soon-to-be-outdated vehicles into one.

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