Manlius firefighters seek urgent purchase of fire truck

Manlius firefighters are making a plea to village officials to replace an aging, broken fire engine.

The village board has scheduled a second emergency meeting for Wednesday, Oct. 20 that will continue its discussion from Oct. 13 to formulate a plan to reinforce its fire department's fleet. The 20-plus year old fire engine has a five-foot long crack in its frame and Fire Chief Paul Whorrall told the board it would be prudent to replace it quickly.

The board was told the engine would cost nearly $325,000 to replace. If it qualified as an emergency purchase, then competitive bidding would not be necessary.

Trustee Natalie Miner said the board must resolve whether the replacement is the best option.

"It would behoove us to determine if this is an emergency purchase," she said.

Since the engine has been out of service since late summer, Whorrall said, when responding to mutual aid calls in neighboring communities, the department is left with a disadvantage.

"The mutual aid calls," he said, "leave us vulnerable."

Whorrall said the village and the fire department have a 20-year plan to replace equipment and yet he is told year after year to work with the current equipment.

Mayor Mark-Paul Serafin said the board has worked on an apparatus proposal since early summer and then the cracked frame was brought to his attention in August.

"We are looking way outside the box at our apparatus," he said.

Some board members questioned if the village could sell the broken engine to help ease the cost of a new rig. Options such as Craigslist and Ebay were mentioned.

The board also instructed clerk Lisa DeVona to contact village of Camillus and city of Syracuse officials to gather specifications on identical fire engines purchased recently by the municipalities.

Fire station work

Whorrall and other department personnel questioned the mayor on the timetable of the scope of renovation/construction work at the two fire stations. The chief mentioned several inadequacies, including mold issues at Station 2 and the lack of office, meeting and parking space at Station 1. For some time, the town's fire departments have discussed a potential fire district where shared services are a possibility. The feasibility of such a district in the foreseeable future does not diminish the urgency of some major updates to the current stations, Whorrall said.

"We are hearing that we are still talking," said firefighter Dave Haase, "but to a layperson talk is cheap."

Whorrall also expressed his disappointment in the lack of progress in getting the project moving toward repair, renovation or reconstruction.

"We have tried to cut back, lower the costs while still meeting the needs," Whorrall said, "and all we hear is study, study, study."

"That's not what I see," the mayor said. "We are not sitting here doing nothing. We are practicing due diligence. It's as simple as that."

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