City agrees to buy $1M fire truck

GLOVERSVILLE – After years of being turned down by the federal government for a grant to buy a new fire truck, the city will buy one on its own.

The city council on Monday unanimously approved the nearly $1 million purchase of a new ladder truck for the Fire Department.

The midmount quint aerial platform truck will have a ladder that extends at least 95 feet.

The council awarded the bid to Sutphen Corp. for $979,583. Both Rosenbauer and E-One provided lower bids, but upon review of the bids, the city determined they failed to meet the city’s specifications.

Mayor Dayton King said the city would be able to afford the purchase. He said the city could use some of the $3.5 million in the general fund for a down payment and borrow for the rest.

The city could pay off the bond in five years, he said.

However, city Finance Commissioner Bruce Van Genderen said this morning he believes the city could borrow for the entire cost. He said the final decision will be made when he meets with the Finance Committee later this month.

Despite the expense, King previously said he is confident city taxes will go down.

Fire Chief Beth Whitman-Putnam said it will take approximately a year before the new truck will be available to add to the fleet.

“I am very pleased that the council has given us permission to move forward,” Whitman-Putnam said.

“I’m very happy we are formally moving forward on this,” 1st Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth said.

King said no public vote would be necessary to acquire the fire truck.

“I don’t know that this city has spent almost a million dollars on one item ever,” King said. “This is probably the biggest expenditure the city has ever spent on one item. I know this is a big deal for our city and for the safety of our residents.”

He said the Fire Department did its homework to find a vehicle that would last for 20 to 25 years.

“The big sticker tag of a million dollars is large, but I think when you multiply that over 20 or 25 years, it kind of breaks it down,” King said.

The federal government denied the department grant money for a ladder truck for five years in a row.

Whitman-Putnam said most fire departments buy trucks new and have them designed to meet their particular needs. While some used trucks are available, they may not fit the city’s needs such as ladder height and tank capacity, she said.

The city needed a truck with an aerial platform with pumping capabilities that includes at least a 95-foot aerial ladder, a 2,000-gallon-per-minute pump, and a tank capacity of 500 gallons.

The quint aerial platform combines functions of a typical engine pump and an aerial ladder, the chief said.

She said the city is required by the Insurance Services Office to have a ladder truck because five or more buildings in the city are three stories tall or higher. The ISO also requires a ladder to be within 2 1/2 miles of the coverage area, she said.

The Johnstown Fire Department, which has an aerial truck paid for in part with federal money, now is on standby to respond to fires in Gloversville.

If Johnstown is not available, the Amsterdam Fire Department can be asked to respond, Whitman-Putnam said.

The chief said the previous truck didn’t hold any water or have a pump. The new quint vehicle would have that ability.

Gloversville’s last ladder truck, with a 110-foot aerial ladder, was taken out of permanent emergency service in November 2011 after it failed inspection because of corroded and broken parts.

The previous year, the city had paid $22,000 for repairs so the truck could pass its aerial test and inspection.

The department previously sought to sell the 22-year-old truck June 11 but later learned it could make more money by selling it for scrap. The city sold it for $5,600 for scrap June 15.

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