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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 30, 2009

Mayor not so sure
Fire chief proposes new $320K truck

By Philippa Stasiuk

VOORHEESVILLE — In order to avoid costs associated with stricter 2010 diesel emission standards, Frank Papa, the chief of Voorheesville’s fire company, wants the village to buy a new fire truck two years early. 

“We usually only get one every 25 years,” said Papa at the village board meeting on Tuesday night, “but this year’s specifications are cheaper and we can save the village money.”

Mayor Robert Conway described the presentation as an “informative but expensive proposition.” Conway said the board would be assessing both the needs and the costs of a new fire truck and that there would be public hearings regarding its purchase.

Chet Garrison, president of Garrison Fire and Rescue Corporation, also spoke at the meeting, and said the cost of a new ready-made fire truck is about $320,000.

Beginning next year, however, a truck with an engine that complies with the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 diesel emissions standards will cost between $17,000 and $35,000 more. The increased costs are associated with the engine’s additional parts and more sophisticated engineering needed to get rid of almost all of the emissions’ pollution.

The EPA announced the 2010 diesel emission standards for all trucks in 2000. The standards are expected to reduce 95 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions and 90 percent of particulate emissions, or soot in the United States from the 2000 pollution levels. Diesel pollution is associated with increased risks of lung cancer.

Conway said “I understand the concept of getting under the wire to avoid a price increase for a new model but, if it’s presented as a way to avoid stricter emission controls, I don’t think that’s something we’d rush to embrace. The life expectancy of a truck in Voorheesville could be 25 years. I don’t think we want to have a non-environmental truck for the next 25 years. It’s going to come down to cost, and if we can afford it, and how we’re going to finance it.”

Garrison told The Enterprise that the 2010 emission standards are one further jump towards cleaner engines from changes in specifications that happened in both 2003 and 2007.

“This new engine model won’t be as drastic as the changes in 2003 or 2007,” said Garrison. “A 2007 fire truck model has pretty pure air coming out of it. Right now, engine manufacturers are saying that the air coming out of the 2007 models is what we’re breathing normally. The exhaust in a model with a 2010 engine’s pipe will be cleaner than what we breath every day. They’re getting the air almost pure. It will be as clean or cleaner as the air in the fire station or the truck’s garage.”

Despite the clean-air advantages of the 2010 engine model, Garrison said there are potential drawbacks. His company is currently grappling with the challenge of how to install the new engines. The pollution mechanism, which Garrison likens to a muffler, is an “after-treatment device” that needs to be placed exactly where the fire pump is located on his company’s current line of trucks.

“They have to be in a certain area, which is where our fire pump is located,” he said. “They will also be more costly to repair down the road because the device is one more device that will require maintenance down the line.”

The Voorheesville Volunteer Fire Department currently has three trucks that are seven, 22, and 33 years old. Papa said that, to help finance the purchase of a new truck, the fire department would sell the 22-year-old truck, which is valued somewhere between $20,000 and $25,000. Garrison said there is a market for used trucks in communities that cannot afford to purchase new ones, but, since the terrorists’ attacks of September 2001, the federal government had increased funding for new trucks in those communities. Garrison said this government funding had decreased the demand for used fire trucks though there is still a market.

Garrison also described to the board various financing options for a new truck’s purchase, which include leasing the truck, or making the new truck a “demo truck,” whereby his company could keep the truck for up to six months and use it as a demonstration model prior to turning it over to the village. Using the fire truck as a demonstration model would cut another $12,000 to $20,000 off of the price.

Other business

In other business, the board:

— Unanimously amended a village zoning law adopted in 2006. The law now allows both covered and uncovered porches to extend to front yards as long as they meet specified requirements;

— Unanimously approved an application for grant money from the Unified Court System under the Justice Court Assistance Program. The money would be used to upgrade the court’s facilities including renovating the court’s entranceway and restroom; adding safety, non-slip stair treads to the two stairways serving the court, adding lighting to the parking area in the back of the building; replacing the current court office door with split doors so that the public can have access to the court clerk without having to physically enter the small office space, and replacing window treatments;

— Heard from Conway that the board offers its condolences to the families of Kenneth Batchelder, Waldo Greene, and Elizabeth Stevens, mother to Trustee Jack Stevens; and

— Heard from Trustee Bill Hotaling that the zoning board of appeals approved a 20-foot front-yard setback variance on 7 Mountainview Sreett. The zoning board also denied a request for variance for a six-foot gate at the entrance to a driveway. The planning commission approved special-use permits at 7 Mountainview Street and 11 North Main for a covered front porch on new construction.

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