Fire Department looks into new rescue vehicle

By: Jeremy Selweski | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published November 19, 2014

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The Macomb Township Fire Department may soon be adding a new truck to its fleet and replacing some old, worn-out rescue equipment.

On Nov. 12, Fire Chief Robert Phillips appeared before the Macomb Township Board of Trustees to request approval for him to travel to Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania, to look at several light rescue trucks that are currently in production by the vehicle manufacturer KME Fire Apparatus. The board unanimously approved Phillips’ request, which he said would allow his department to begin the process of upgrading some outdated gear.

As the chief explained, “We’ve been looking at replacing our rescue and air truck that’s housed at (Fire) Station No. 1. The current truck is a 2003 Ford F-550 with a walk-in rescue box on it. The rescue box is approaching 30 years of age, and it’s currently on its third chassis.”

Phillips added that KME would be covering all the costs associated with his travel, which would entail flying out to Pennsylvania on Dec. 1 and returning the next day. Because the trip would be free, Trustee Roger Krzeminski asked Supervisor Janet Dunn if he would be able to accompany Phillips to KME’s production facilities.

“Madam Chair, would there be a problem if one board member, like myself, went along on this expedition in looking at (these vehicles)?” he inquired. “If the board will allow me to go, it’s at no cost (to the township). I think that’s a good thing.”

Phillips pointed out that KME had agreed to accommodate up to two board members on the trip, if they were interested. The board then voted to grant Krzeminski’s request.

The chief also sought the board’s approval for a small purchase on behalf of his department. This transaction involved acquiring new uniform pants for Macomb Township’s paid on-call firefighters, as required in their current collecting bargaining agreement.

According to Phillips, the Fire Department made a request for the item and was able to find about 80 vendors that could meet its specifications. However, only two of these 80 vendors actually submitted bids for the request. The board ultimately authorized Phillips’ recommendation to award the purchase to the lowest bidder, Enterprise Uniform Company, at a total cost of $2,479.50.

“We have used this company for the past two years,” Phillips said, “and they have always provided a quality product as specified.”

Krzeminski also had a question for Phillips about the use of firefighting drones. Last month, it was reported that the Detroit Fire Department was one of a growing number of fire agencies across the nation that was currently considering the use of unmanned aircrafts for fighting fires and responding to other emergencies. The purpose of the drones is to gain more information about a fire from a safe distance before putting local firefighters’ lives in danger.

“Chief, in your dealings with the fire service, are they thinking about using drones to do some of their fire (and rescue) services?” Krzeminski asked. “Or do they think that the heat coming from the fires would cause them not to work? … I mean, (I ask) just to help you out.”

But Phillips indicated that he had not seriously considered it, as he was skeptical about using this new technology to replace traditional firefighting manpower.

“There are some (fire) departments that are starting to use (drones),” he explained. “There’s some research coming out on the benefits of them, but it’s still pretty early (in the process). I know of a few departments that use them, but my belief at this point is that we’re better off to pull up and fight the fire ourselves than to set up a drone and have it fly around while the fire is burning.”

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