Fire, police needs outlined

The city’s emergency services could potentially be compromised if requests for large purchases by th
PHOTOGRAPHER:

The city’s emergency services could potentially be compromised if requests for large purchases by the city’s police and fire departments are denied again, city officials say.

The Common Council on June 17 rejected a proposed $3 million capital improvement program, which included proposals from both departments to purchase public safety equipment.

One of the fire department’s fire engines, dating back to 1979, officially bit the dust, according to Chief Richard Liberti. The engine has been stripped of all usable parts and is now sitting outside the public safety building.

Liberti said the department has two other usable trucks, both with ladders, and he wants to replace one of them as well.

The 1991 truck has had a minimum of $3,000 in repairs in the last year and is “getting tired,” Liberti said.

The newer trucks Liberti wants to purchase come with additional safety features for the firefighters, including adequate seat belts and a rollover prevention sensor.

The newer trucks also come with lighter ladders, which are easier to maneuver around two-family houses.

Liberti said a new fire engine and firetruck with a ladder would cost about $1.1 million and purchasing both vehicles together would save money.

Liberti said he was also asking for vehicle extraction equipment, commonly referred to as the Jaws of Life. He said the new equipment is lighter and has been changed to accommodate newer vehicles.

The Police Department is also looking to purchase equipment that would make its officers more efficient.

Assistant Chief Victor Hugo said the department asked the city to purchase $75,000 worth of software, which would allow officers to write electronic, mobile tickets using a hand-held scanner.

Information would be quickly obtained and transmitted through a wireless network, Hugo said.

“It would save a tremendous amount of time for the officer,” he said.

Hugo said he also asked for two new police cruisers to keep the department’s fleet up to date.

Hugo also asked for $10,000 to replace and repair some of the city’s 1960s-era traffic signals, some of which need rewiring.

Department heads were told to resubmit their proposals and the Common Council would vote on them individually.

Alderman Joseph Isabel, R-1st Ward, who voted against the $3 million program, said he supported individual capital budgets submitted by the police and fire departments.

“I’m 100 percent confident in the public safety budgets,” he said.

Isabel said he would rather vote on each department’s capital budget separately.

Alderman Daniel Roth, R-2nd Ward, who also voted against the original program, said the city needs to be more fiscally responsible and prioritize the big expenditures.

Roth said he recognizes the need for things like new firetrucks, but he would rather spend money demolishing old properties.

“We need to manage the well-being of our citizens, while being fiscally responsible,” he said. “Demolition is my No. 1 priority and I don’t want to see our bond rating screwed up because we’ve bonded for other things.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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