Lake George fire officials have asked the village board to approve buying a new pumper-tanker — a replacement for their 12-year-old fire truck that needs extensive repairs.
Local fire officials say the fire truck they rely on to fight many residential fires is in poor condition and needs to be replaced, but village board members are wary of buying a new pumper-tanker because of its expense.
Lake George Fire Chief Jason Carmody told village board members May 2 that their existing 2002 American LaFrance fire truck is in such bad shape that it needs to be scrapped. He noted that American LaFrance went out of business and parts can be difficult to obtain for the model they have.
The truck is now in Albany at Tyler Fire Equipment, pending a decision on whether to repair or replace it.
Local fire officials said that the water pump is not operating, the gas tank has rotted, and various lights, switches, outlets and valves do not operate. It also needs new struts, exhaust pipes and various belts, according to an estimate from Tyler’s service manager. The memo noted the fire truck has many electrical problems that may require extensive diagnosis and rewiring.
According to reports from lake George fire personnel, the water pump failed to work on a recent fire that consumed a house near George’s Restaurant on Rte. 9L.
Carmody told the board May 2 that their two other fire engines, one a massive ladder truck and the other a large triple-axle pumper couldn’t substitute for the 2002 American LaFrance, because they couldn’t travel up many rural unpaved roads and narrow, twisting driveways. He suggested the village buy a new mid-size fire truck.
“We don’t have a working fire truck that we can guarantee will get into local driveways,” he said, noting that the larger trucks couldn’t make sharp turns.
A new mid-size pumper truck could cost $300,000 to about $600,000 depending on model and equipment. The village presently has about $475,000 set aside in a fire equipment reserve fund, Blais estimated. According to long-standing fire protection agreements, the town of Lake George would be paying a portion of the truck’s cost.
Deputy Mayor John Earl said he was surprised at the extensive repairs needed, considering the truck’s relatively recent vintage and its modest use.
“Taylor has serviced the American LaFrance all these years — How come all of a sudden the truck is a piece of junk?” he said, noting that village officials had not been told over the years of pending problems.
Mayor Robert Blais said the truck in its present condition would likely have little value, or about $15,000 — the amount that could be obtained from scrapping the steel.
“Get a quote from Tyler for fixing it up,” he said. “However, we could be putting good money after bad.”
Board member Ray Perry suggested that the village buy a scrapped American LaFrance pumper and take parts off it to fix up the fire department’s existing truck.
“Tyler should have warned us several years ago about the truck’s condition,” he said.
Blais suggested that fire officials attend fire equipment expositions, obtain quotes on replacement vehicles, then report back to the board on their findings later this month.
At this May 2 special meeting, the village board approved a 2015 fire protection contract with the fire department for $215,934, a slightly higher sum than for the present year.