Morning Read: Does Saranac Lake need a bigger fire hall or a smaller fire truck?

So here’s the story laid out in a the Adirondack Daily Enterprise:

The local volunteer fire squad in Saranac Lake buys a big refurbished truck for $143,000 and only after the vehicle arrives do they discover that it’s too big to fit in the front door.

Once they made the door bigger, they discovered that the truck is too darn heavy for the concrete floor inside the fire hall.

That has now revived discussion of building a whole new fire hall.

[Village trustee John] McEneany said it may be a time to have another discussion about what to do with the building.

“Do we build a new firehouse?” McEneany asked. “Do we fix the one that’s there? Do we expand where we are? Do we go someplace else? I believe those issues are still open.”

This story raises some thorny questions, about equipment and safety issues for an important volunteer fire squad, but also about the ways that local government makes decisions.

Give it a read and chime in below.  As always, your comments welcome.

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15 Responses to “Morning Read: Does Saranac Lake need a bigger fire hall or a smaller fire truck?”

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  1. verplanck says:

    It’s not an isolated incident, a volunteer FD in VT here had the same issue.

    I guess the big question is whether this huge new truck is necessary, or if people just wanted a big new toy to play with. If the former, than sure, updating the building is necessary. If the latter, then the volunteers should sell their shiny new truck and get one that fits their needs, budget, and infrastructure better.

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  2. Walker says:

    Well, given that they’ve been lobbying for a new fire house for several years now, it seems suspiciously like a planned “oops”. It’s not like fires have been getting bigger lately. Trade it in for a truck that fits.

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  3. Pete Klein says:

    The fire departments do love their toys.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  4. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    As far as firetrucks go, the bigger the better. I doubt anything devious is behind the oversight. If they need a bigger fire house, then start making plans.

    Our communities are fortunate to have the numerous volunteer fire departments. These volunteers train and prepare on their own time. I only wish there were more people within the community as dedicated and generous with their time. The next time you see a volunteer firefighter, you should thank them for what they do.

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  5. Kramskoor says:

    I am sure that verplanck did not mean to be offensive, but the idea that the volunteer firefighters are motivated by a “big new toy to play with” or a “shiny new truck” is disrespectful of the men and women who spend hundreds of hours each year training and responding to emergencies.

    The current fire house was built in the 1920s, and firefighting equipment has gotten bigger, mainly in order to be more effective and safer. The fire house clearly needs to be replaced for a number of reasons, including the need to house modern equipment.

    Hot debate. Like/Dislike Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  6. PNElba says:

    Build a new firehouse and use local labor to do it.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  7. Paul says:

    “This story raises some thorny questions, about equipment and safety issues for an important volunteer fire squad, but also about the ways that local government makes decisions.”

    Brian, what are the thorny questions? They needed a new truck so they bought one.

    It will cost less than a new pickup truck to reinforce the floor like they mention in the story. Do that and move on.

    Next topic?

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  8. rockydog says:

    Sounds like very poor planning on the fire department and village

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  9. Mark Wilson says:

    Bigger firehouse? Smaller truck? How about option 3: New measuring tape and calculator?

    Popular. Like/Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  10. Chris Knight says:

    Kramskoor: The main part of the current firehouse was built in 1892, when the fire department used a horse and buggy to respond to fires. There was an addition built in the 1960s, which is where the middle bay is that can’t hold up the weight of the new truck. The floor of the older portion of the firehouse was shored up with steel in the 1990s.

    Chris Knight

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  11. Walker says:

    “As far as firetrucks go, the bigger the better.”

    Well, maybe not if you live on a narrow, twisty road. And though I live right in the village, it’s not uncommon for parked cars to narrow my street down to where a big truck could have trouble getting through.

    Was the FD running into problems from not having big enough equipment? Can someone point out a news story where their equipment was too small to do the job?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  12. Paul says:

    Walker, what are you saying that these volunteer firemen bought a truck that they did not need?

    “The big ladder truck conspiracy of 2011″??

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  13. Paul says:

    “it’s not uncommon for parked cars to narrow my street down to where a big truck could have trouble getting through”

    Maybe that is why the bought this baby, so they could smash their way through any cars blocking the path!

    (Walker, just a joke)

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. Two Cents says:

    What about getting a couple of those aluminum frame and tarp car ports they sell at Tractor supply?

    Really though, nobody in the F.D. considered consulting an Architect or Engineer?
    Who’s in charge anyway?
    Probably had to spend the money or loose it, in some convoluted State b.s.
    Nice to know someone who can write a 100,000.00 check hasn’t the sense to tie his shoes.
    Good thing firemen are volunteers, if i had to pay them i’d wan’t more from them.

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  15. tootightmike says:

    Building a new firehouse is a huge and thorny issue. The updated standards are mind boggling, and since 9/11 we’ve gotten completely carried away around issues of preparedness. In Potsdam, the rescue squad needed a better space. This mushroomed into a new Police station and Rescue squad complex, built in a space that wasn’t big enough, and attached to the old village office building, creating a real rat maze. “The Squad” had a big fund-raising campaign to afford all of this, but never reached the proposed goal. Construction went ahead anyway, and as far as I can tell the rest of the costs got quietly rolled into village and town “expenses”. No vote of approval required.
    Then we wonder why our taxes are so high.

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