Thanks to an unexpected turn of events, the Jamestown Fire Department may see two new vehicles added to its fleet in the near future.
According to Mayor Sam Teresi, the city received word a little over a week ago from the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA that the it had been approved for a $464,364 grant that will cover 90 percent of the total cost for two new vehicles. The application, which was submitted last July, will cover the majority of the cost to purchase a new ambulance, estimated to cost $114,520, and a new pumper truck to replace the 33-year-old open-cab truck that the fire department has already had to have refurbished.
"We're hoping (the current pumper truck) can last long enough for this grant to be processed, have the bid specifications put together, have the bidding process completed and order a new one under the competitive bidding process," said Teresi. "The city's share of this would be $51,596, and this is easily one of the largest public safety grants that the city has ever received."
Teresi went on to thank Deputy Chief Chet Harvey, Battalion Chief Matt Russo and City Comptroller Joe Bellitto for their aid in putting together the proposal and supporting documentation that helped the city secure this level of funding. The grant was listed as being approved on March 22, and the city was officially notified via email on March 29. The city now has to officially accept or decline the grant within 30 days.
"We fully intend on bringing this forth to the Finance Committee for review and formal action, and then back to the City Council for acceptance at the next voting session," said Teresi. "Obviously the administration is very pleased about this and we're strongly recommending it. We were probably months or years away from replacing the equipment and the timing couldn't have been better. This is a very big godsend to the city of Jamestown."
In addition to the city staff, Teresi recognized the city's congressional delegation for their support on this matter, saying that Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Tom Reed were all very supportive and instrumental in helping to ensure that the city received this grant, as well as U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, who was a strong advocate of this grant on the city's behalf.
"It's clear to say that without this level of support from FEMA, I'm not sure where we'd be able to turn for funding for a project like this.," said Teresi. "As for the city's matching share, we'll obviously go out and see what type of aftermarket there might be for the two pieces of equipment. We don't anticipate that there's going to be a robust demand for those vehicles, but hopefully we won't have to pay to have it hauled away like some of our DPW equipment in the past. Hopefully there will be some value, even scrap value if nothing else."
Teresi also anticipates that there will be a chance to harvest equipment off of the vehicles for redeployment and reuse, either on the new equipment or elsewhere in the department. Whatever funds are received for the aging vehicles will go to defray the cost of the 10 percent matching share. In the tight budget that the city is operating in for 2013, Teresi recommended that the city use a portion of the $225,000 contingency account to cover the balance of the cost.
"Our strong recommendation would be to proceed to accept this grant as quickly as possible and to get the bidding and replacement processes going," said Teresi. "Hopefully we're not going to have to spend any more money keeping these vehicles limping along or looking for bridge replacement vehicles in the mean time."
At Monday's meeting, Teresi also noted that he is looking to enter into talks with Cummins about replacing the engine in the new pumper vehicle, saying that he's looking to get the best engine they possibly can for the vehicle, and that the hometown-produced Cummins engine is at the top of their list.
"It's such good news," said Harvey about the grant. "I'm so pleased about this - it was quite unexpected that we did receive the grant. The timing is just perfect."