TUPPER LAKE — The Village of Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department is working on some changes, including trying to acquire a new truck and lowering the minimum age to serve.
“We have a busy summer ahead,” Fire Chief Mark Picerno said.
On June 18, the Tupper Lake Village Board approved the Fire Department’s request to submit a grant application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to replace its 1983 fire truck.
“It’s literally falling apart,” the chief said.
The pumper truck, which just barely passed state-mandated inspections, has become a safety concern, he said.
But securing funds from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program is by no means guaranteed.
“More departments are putting in for less money. It’s a gamble,” Picerno said.
A new pumper truck will cost about $350,000, he said.
Currently, the department has three fire engines, one tanker that transports water and one mini pumper that is used to extinguish grass and brush fires.
The Fire Department recently acquired a piece of equipment that will improve its capabilities.
It bid on, and secured, East Greenbush Fire Department’s 1975 tower ladder, which was refurbished in 1995.
The department is also in need of a Jaws of Life extrication device to help reach accident victims trapped in vehicles.
The current one was obtained from the Tupper Lake Volunteer Ambulance and Emergency Service after it was no longer needed by that entity.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t “meet current specifications to cut through some of newer cars,” Picerno said of the apparatus.
Instead of cutting through boron steel, that device would only crush it.
A vendor presented a model of the apparatus to the department Monday night.
The device would cost between $11,000 and $19,000, Picerno said.
A decision on which model to buy will likely be made by the village before the next board meeting in August, he said.
In an effort to boost recruitment efforts, the Fire Department may change its bylaws to lower the age requirement for firefighters from 21 to 18.
Fifty-one active volunteers serve in the department at this time. When the chief joined the department 15 years ago, he was one of 75 firefighters, so he is hoping the age change would widen the pool of potential members.
There usually are not any full department meetings until November, but Picerno said the vote may happen at the Fire Department’s business meeting in August.
“We’ve already had people call” and express interest in submitting applications, he said.
If the measure passes, he said, “I think we’re going to have a waiting list once again.”