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Rochester to add new fire rescue vehicle to fleet

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published July 6, 2016


ROCHESTER — A new fire rescue vehicle will soon be seen cruising around the streets of Rochester.

On June 13, the Rochester City Council approved the purchase of a rescue squad vehicle at a cost of $560,000. The money comes from the fleet replacement plan in the capital projects fund.

The rescue squad vehicle, which will replace a 2006 vehicle with 14,650 miles and 1,780 hours of service on it, carries specialized equipment for various hazards, according to Rochester Fire Chief John Cieslik.

“We call it our big tool box because it has a bunch of specialized tools that the firefighters would use on any emergency scene,” Cieslik said. “The only thing it doesn’t have is a pump for water on it because the water and pump take up space, which would limit the specialized equipment.”

These days, Cieslik said, the Fire Department handles all hazard response emergencies.

“Back in the day, we just used to go to fires, but now people call us and want us to come to whatever emergency they have,” Cieslik explained. “If a building were to blow up in downtown Rochester, like it did years ago, (the new vehicle) carries special equipment to stabilize the building so that we can conduct search and rescue operations. It also carries specialized equipment for if a worker was trapped in a confined space, and for high-angle and low-angle rope rescue. If somebody crashed their vehicle and went down a steep hill and we had to bring the person up, we would use low-angle rescue rope, and if somebody was trapped up in a tree, we would use the equipment (for) that type of rescue. It also carries specialized equipment for if a firefighter or a resident was trapped in a burning building. We have specialized equipment so that we can go ahead and do a rescue of that person. We also carry specialized equipment for vehicle accidents.”

The replacement of the vehicle, dubbed Rescue Squad 1, was forecasted and budgeted for in the Fire Department Replacement Plan. The plan, created in 2009, maps out a proposed schedule in which each piece of major mobile equipment will be budgeted for replacement, Cieslik explained. The plan takes into consideration the point at which maintenance costs escalate and when the trade-in value of the vehicle would rapidly decrease.

Cieslik said Rescue Squad 1 has reached the age when major maintenance will need to be completed, including work on the brakes, an overhaul of the transmission and tire replacement.

“The old one was getting a little bit old, the maintenance costs were increasing, and we needed to have a little bit more space to carry additional equipment,” he explained.

The replacement vehicle will cost the city approximately $560,000, but the trade-in value for the old squad vehicle is $75,000, which will bring the replacement cost to approximately $485,000.

“We have been saving money, so we do have money in the fleet replacement plan to go ahead and purchase the vehicle,” Cieslik said. “It will be brand new, and we will have it constructed to the specifications that we need so that we will have all of the right compartment spaces to carry the necessary equipment, plus there will be some additional space in the event that we have to add new equipment that we don’t know yet.”

Although the council unanimously voted to approve the purchase, the decision was met with some reluctance by Councilman Ben Giovanelli.

“It’s a $560,000 piece of equipment, and it’s extraordinarily painful to write a half-a-million-dollar check,” Giovanelli said before he made a motion to approve the purchase.

The new rescue squad vehicle is expected to be delivered in July 2017.

“We do a really good job of keeping the trucks well-maintained,” Cieslik said. “It’s a huge investment, and we want to make sure that we are treating it (as such).”

The Fire Department is also purchasing a new off-road vehicle customized to carry medical equipment and a stretcher for large events, races and emergencies on the trails to replace a 15-year-old golf cart that was used previously.

“If you think of all of the trails that we have in Rochester and all of the special events where we can’t drive one of the big ambulances to, we will be able to use this to go pick up anybody who is having a medical emergency and then drive them to where the ambulance would be at,” Cieslik explained.

The Fire Department currently has two fire engines, a ladder truck and one rescue squad vehicle in its fleet.