SARATOGA SPRINGS – After some initial concern, the city’s soon-to-be third fire station is expected to open on time in June.
The city was facing a potential delay in the delivery of a backup generator needed to keep emergency systems operating in case of power loss, but the machinery is now scheduled to show up on time.
On Friday he said he received news that the manufacturers expect the generator to be delivered sometime in June.
Montagnino said many special order items are taking exceptionally longer to build.
“The build times are ridiculously long compared with the pre-COVID days,” he said. “We’re experiencing the same thing with the fire apparatus that we ordered. Things like ladder trucks, the manufacturers are talking about two years to get the ladder truck built from the time it’s ordered to the time it’s delivered.”
However, unlike the emergency generator, he said not having the new ladder truck is not an issue at this point.
“We have two functioning ladder trucks,” he said. “There is a new one on order and we’re able to maintain our equipment so we’ll have functioning ladder trucks until the new one is ready.”
But not having the backup generator means potentially not having computer and other systems operating in the event of the loss of power.
“The emergency generator is a special order item because the third station is also an emergency operation center in the event that some disaster should shut down City Hall and so it requires some sophisticated electronic equipment so that the generator doesn’t damage the computer systems that it would be operating,” he said.
Beyond the delay in the generator and the truck, Montagnino said the physical building is on schedule to be done and ready to open by late May or early June.
The news of the generator comes just a couple days after the City Council unanimously approved hosting its first ever fire academy for the 16 new firefighters it needs to hire.
In September 2022, Saratoga Springs was awarded a $4.1 million grant from the federal government to add 16 firefighters. The money will cover the salaries of those firefighters for three years. The hiring of 16 firefighters would bring the department to around 85 firefighters.
The new firefighters would staff the third station .
So far 10 firefighters have been hired and are ready to head to the academy. Another firefighter who is already trained and works in another department was also hired, Montagnino said.
“We hope to be hiring more in the near future,” he said.
Those new hires will head to the academy in March, which will be hosted at the Wilton Fire District training facility. The academy will run through June and it will cost the city $2,500 to use the Wilton facilities, according to Montagnino.
“The number of new recruits who do not already have firefighter certification is so great that we would overwhelm the existing fire academies and we found that we could actually save by running our own academy at the Wilton location, which has its own classroom facility and burn building,” Montagnino said at the City Council meeting.
The City Council also approved creating a temporary part-time fire instructor position for the 17-week-long academy. Montagnino said instructors would work 24 hours a week at a rate of $35 per hour — costing the city between $13,125 to $14,000.
Mayor Ron Kim asked whether there was money in the budget for the position.
“We have money in the training budget that would otherwise be paid to the fire academy,” Montangino said.
Kim also asked whether the instructor position would remain after the academy is over.
“Once this large group of firefighters has been trained we don’t intend to keep the academy going,” Montagnino said.
If the other six firefighters needed are not hired prior to the academy starting, Montagnino said, they will stagger training for those individuals.
“We can have them begin paramedic training before the fire academy training,” he said. “That’s an option.”