Silver Creek Board vote disappoints Fire Department

By NICOLE GUGINO

OBSERVER Assistant News Editor

SILVER CREEK – The purchase of a fire truck was unanimously denied at the Silver Creek Village Board meeting Monday.

About 10 members of the Silver Creek Volunteer Fire Department attended the meeting to see what the board’s decision would be. Members of the fire department’s fire truck committee have been looking for a way to purchase a fire truck for the past three and a half years.

About five months ago, the department was made aware of a ladder truck in very good condition that the Falconer Fire Department was going to sell for $150,000 because it received a grant for a basket truck.

A resolution to borrow $50,000 at 1 percent interest from the county emergency services agency was unanimously voted down by board members.

Fire Department volunteers left the meeting immediately following the decision.

Trustees said the decision was “solely financial” and was made after a meeting with the village’s auditor.

“This was a difficult decision for everyone,” Trustee Thomas Harmon said. “It wasn’t a rash or fast decision, we worked hard to make this happen but we can’t afford it.”

The auditor told the board it is approaching the constitutional debt limit and should think hard before borrowing more money. Treasurer Janet St. George said much of the debt is in FEMA projects, which have yet to be refunded. The village hired a consultant at its last meeting to try to recoup FEMA funds.

“We would have loved to be able to buy the truck, but we couldn’t financially with all the projects ongoing in the village, we simply couldn’t afford it,” Mayor Nick Piccolo said, commending the board’s decision and thanking the fire department for its work.

After the meeting, fire department personnel gathered in the fire hall.

They expressed disappointment at the missed opportunity to purchase a vehicle in very good shape that had twice the pumping capacity of any of the department’s trucks and also had rehab capabilities and a 75-foot ladder.

“All we ask for is the equipment to do our job in a safe and efficient manner,” Chief Jeff Griewisch said of the volunteers who respond at the cost of time with their own families.

Assistant Chief Brandyn Griewisch said the newest truck the department has is a 1983 pumper truck. He said although all trucks are going to need repairs, each time an older truck is used the chances become greater that it will stop working.

The ladder truck had the functions of three trucks and the capacity to hold eight firefighters. Assistant Chief Griewisch explained it would have made the department more efficient in terms of manpower, a scarce resource during the week while members are at work, because then the department would not need as many personnel to drive three trucks, just enough for one.

He added that the tallest extension ladder the department has reaches 24 feet straight in the air, less at an angle, and it takes at least 15 minutes for mutual aid to get to Silver Creek and even more time for the ladder to be set up.

Chief Griewisch said a ladder truck can be used to ventilate a fire to bring the temperature down so that rescue crews can enter the building and search for survivors as well as reach taller structures like the school building.

Assistant Chief Griewisch said he wished the village had a better fire truck replacement plan in place so that the department could purchase equipment it needs. He said in Falconer, the village sets aside $50,000 a year and the department is able to replace a vehicle every seven years and have better trade-in value. He said this is one of the issues in Silver Creek, that a new fire truck costs at least $400,000 and the department’s vehicles have very little, if any, trade-in value.

“I would have preferred my taxes went up a little and I saw what my taxes were going toward,” Jim Tytka Sr. said, adding that he thinks the village did not prioritize this purchase properly.

The purchase would also have meant a savings for homeowners in their fire insurance because the purchase would have positively impacted the village’s ISO rating.

“If it makes our jobs easier so we can protect the people better then that is what we want,” Chief Griewisch said, adding although the department is upset by the board’s decision, they are still there to help the residents.

Griewisch said residents with questions about the truck can call the fire department or one of the chiefs.

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