Amsterdam Fire Department gets funds to update rescue gear

The city Fire Department has received a settlement from the state Department of Environmental Conser

The city Fire Department has received a settlement from the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s oil spill fund for its work assisting state agencies with gasoline contamination at Fownes Brothers & Co in 2004.

The money will allow the department to replace 15-year-old hydraulic rescue equipment.

Noxious odors sent 29 people to area hospitals in November 2004 for treatment of symptoms that included nausea, dizziness, headaches and elevated blood pressure. The Fownes building on Elk Street was evacuated and factory production temporarily shut down as state health officials attempted to determine the cause of the fumes, which were also causing burning eyes and dry mouths.

The fumes, which also drove a nearby resident from his home, were determined to be from leaking gasoline tanks that were removed. DEC then set up a vapor extraction system that is still working today, according to Amsterdam Fire Chief Richard Liberti.

The city in 2005 put in a claim to recoup overtime expenses the Fire Department incurred helping in the matter, Liberti said, and was awarded just over $7,500 two weeks ago. Liberti said firefighters spent about two nights working with state health agencies to ventilate the city’s wastewater system in the neighborhood.

The money, along with a $13,500 member item from state Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, will allow the Fire Department to purchase hydraulic rescue tools that had been requested through a capital expense in the city budget.

“Now it won’t cost the taxpayers anything,” Liberti said.

The Fire Department’s hydraulic tools are over 15 years old and don’t work properly, Liberti said. Technology advances have made newer versions of the tools lighter and easier to use, and gives rescuers the ability to remove a victim without cutting up an entire vehicle.

Categories: Schenectady County

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