Across the board, Sapp gave As to the Region of Queens, the fire service, fire departments and fire school. In his presentation, he emphasized a marked improvement from last year in many areas. He said last year’s funding was a “step in the right direction.”
This year, Queens County’s fire departments requested grants at the same level as last year, $67,000, including $10,000 for mutual aid. Liverpool, North Queens and Greenfield are requested an additional $35,000.
He announced Queens Fire Service wants an outside audit to help council make an informed decision regarding the fire departments’ needs. David Lohnes, fire chief for North Queens, presented what the audit should entail.
Despite high grading, Sapp admitted there’s always room for improvement.
One of the things he said needs to improve is the testing of equipment such as ropes, ladders and hoses.
Sapp also said firefighters’ training will need ongoing attention
“Over the past year, we had 54 firefighters that participated in live fire training in the burn trailer,” he said.
The fire school brought the trailer to Liverpool in August.
Sapp said before 2011, few Queens County firefighters had live fire training, and now about half of the members do.
“The value of this training was clearly demonstrated during the initial stages of the fire at White Point Beach lodge,” he said. “The conditions experienced inside the building … were very similar to what was experienced and replicated in the burn trailer.”
Last year, departments got 24 bunker suits, and more are on their way. The old suits were more than 10 years old, he said.
“Ten years of age is the standard where the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says, ‘You shouldn’t be wearing it any longer,’” Sapp said.
About a third of the county’s fire trucks are more than 20 years old, said the spokesman. The fire departments have begun to work together to develop a long-term plan to replace fire trucks, which Sapp said hadn’t been done before.
“We came up with a plan that’s supported by all six departments,” he said.
“At this point we used a 30-year schedule to try to replace those trucks.”
The $35,000 requested would be distributed among the three fire departments, with $25,000 for Liverpool, $5,000 for North Queens and $5,000 for Greenfield.
Sapp said the money would be used to pay the loan.
“Once those loans are paid off, they would be put towards either saving for or immediately making new payments for fire trucks,” he said. “The funding increase is based on what is needed to replace the three most critical fire trucks.”
North Queens’ department would like to replace its tanker in late 2013 or early 2014. He said the department’s tanker is used at almost all structure fires and is essential. North Queens is looking for a 10-year $175,000 loan.
Liverpool would like to replace its pumper in 2015. The department is requesting a $300,000 loan over eight years.
Port Medway, Charleston and Mill Village would like to replace their rescue trucks in the next five years, said Sapp.
“The fire trucks in these communities are in excellent condition. Two of the three were purchased in 2010,” he said.
At the end of his presentation, Sapp requested that future meetings concerning the fire service be done publically.
“So that we can participate in addressing any concerns and clarifying any misunderstandings,” he said.
Following Sapp’s presentation and the audit presentation, each fire department had someone speak on its behalf. The meeting ended with councillors thanking Queens Fire Service and expressing their appreciation for the firefighters’ hard work.