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Ogdensburg fire chief lobbies for a new pumper truck

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The Ogdensburg Fire Department is need of a new pumper truck and the sooner the better, according to Chief Steven M. Badlam.

Mr. Badlam said Friday that the department’s 1978 Engine No. 3 has cracks in its chassis, which was actually retrofitted in 2005 to buy the then-aging firefighting vehicle more time for use. But the recurring deterioration and creeping breakdown of its water-pumping apparatus has, in the chief’s view, rendered the vehicle useless.

It hasn’t been out on a call since July. Mr. Badlam considers Engine No. 3 retired.

“I’m not going to put it back on the road,” he said. “The truck is worn out.”

The department has three trucks left in its fleet. They are a 1993 ladder truck with a 1,250-gallon-capacity water tank and two pumpers.

The pumpers are a 2005 model with a 1,500-gallon tank and a 1996 truck that has a 1,250-gallon tank.

Engine No. 3 has a 1,500-gallon tank. It also doubles as the department’s emergency response truck, which means answering about 150 calls month. The 1996 pumper has since taken on that role.

New fire trucks are usually paid for by money appropriated in the city budget, borrowing via a bond or applying for a grant. Buying new also means advertising for bids from vendors and custom-building the vehicle from the bottom up with firefighting specifications at a cost of between $350,000 and $400,000.

It can also take up to a year until delivery.

“We don’t have that kind of time,” Mr. Badlam said.

The chief’s solution is to buy a demonstrator truck which would qualify it as used and thus avoid the bidding process. If the city agrees to finance the purchase at a cost of between $275,000 and $300,000, the truck the chief has in mind could be delivered before the end of the year.

Deputy Mayor Michael D. Morley is all for it.

“I believe him when he (Mr. Badlam) says he needs a new fire truck,” Mr. Morley said. “They (firefighters) put their lives on the line.”

Interim City Manager Philip A. Cosmo said that low interest rates at banks make now “a good time” to borrow money.

Mr. Morley wants the cost nailed down.

“This is not an open-ended check,” he said.

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