Recently, the Plattekill Fire Department held a “Push-In” ceremony to welcome two new pieces of equipment to the department – a 47-10 state of the art E-One body, Cyclone 4x2 Pumper and a new Osage Warrior Type I Ambulance.
The Fire Engine Pumper is constructed on an extruded aluminum body with a 6-man cab, a low Hose Bed, a 1750 GPM Hale Pump and has a 1,000 gallon water capacity and a 30 gallon Class A Foam System. This new unit replaces the Pierce Saber Engine that has served the department for 23 years. It was sold to the Benhaven Emergency Services in Olivia, North Carolina as a reserve engine
The new Osage ambulance is mounted on a Ford F450, four wheel Drive chassis. It is equipped with an electric cot power load system with a liquid spring suspension. This unit is replacing the 2013 Type 2 Van Ambulance that has been in service in Plattekill for a decade. It now resides in the City of Kingston and will serve them as a transporting ambulance.
The traditional ‘Push-In’ ceremony recalls the days of horse-drawn fire apparatus when, at that time, a new piece of equipment was actually pushed into the fire house. The ceremony today represents the formal introduction of these new emergency vehicles to the Plattekill Fire Department.
The department released a statement that said, in part, “The Plattekill Fire Department is excited to share this momentous occasion with the community to show their commitment to providing the best possible emergency services to the residents and visitors.”
Fire Chief Aaron Kopaskie said as the maintenance costs on the old truck began to mount, the department started to consider the purchase of a new truck.
“The new apparatus will help us by being newer and front line. It has a lower hose bed and for some of our shorter members, it is easier for them to grab the hose as it is chest height and they will no longer have to climb. This will help the community in the long run because we will be able to deploy our hose lines faster and easier,” he said. “It will also save us a lot on maintenance costs because our last engine was 23 years old and started showing its age.”
Kopaskie said the National Fire Protection Association [NFPA] has a rule that stipulates 15 years for a front line apparatus and 5 years as a reserve.
“We’ve already had an equipment replacement plan in progress and the vehicle had to get to its age first. We’re a little bit behind because covid hit the industry hard and everything is two to three years out for brand new [equipment],” he said.
Kopaskie said they purchased the new vehicle from a fire department in upstate New York for $799,000 because for some reason they were unable to use it. A completely new truck now runs about $1.2 million.
Kopaskie said the voters in the fire district approved the purchase of the new fire truck and a seven-year bond was used to pay for it. He said they applied $80,000 that the department received from the sale of their older truck to offset the new purchase, bringing the actual bond amount needed to $770,000. He pointed out that this new truck actually saved the taxpayers money because it came in $450,000 less than our spec engine and we were able to make this meet 95% of our spec, saved quite a bit of money and still got what we wanted out of a new truck.”
Kopaskie said the water capacity is the same as their old fire truck but the new one has the ability to quickly deploy 30 gallons of environmentally friendly foam, typically used at fuel fires, hazmat calls or for anything with a high flash point, by simply pressing a button on the pump panel. His firefighters no longer have to worry about using the old bucket foam system that took up valuable time at a fire scene.
Kopaskie said in the last few years the department is running more ambulance calls than fire calls. He said because they are used more frequently, an ambulance is on a shorter replacement cycle of about 10 years. This new one cost about $280,000, and he estimates there are sometimes about eight medical calls in a day.
Kopaskie said the Plattekill fire and ambulance branches are 100% staffed by volunteers, “so we don’t have somebody here at our firehouse 24/7. We all have to come from home and many times in the middle of the night we’re getting out of bed to come to the fire house to answer the call. It’s hard with the changing times but we’re trying to make the best of it and we try out programs to bring some new people here.” He said there may come a time in the future when they will have a number of paid firefighters and EMT personnel. As it now stands, Kopaskie said, “we do it because we want to volunteer and give back to our community...we have an 80 person roster right now and there are between 20 and 30 real active members who come out for a majority of our calls.”