JO C. GOODE
Courtesy of The Woonsocket Call
CUMBERLAND,RI-- Plans for a new $336,000 custom-built fire truck for the Cumberland Fire District are nearing completion, with the pumper and rescue apparatus expected to be delivered in May.
But the recent approval to add a few amenities to the new fire truck -- such as a $1,200 AM/FM radio and CD stereo system and an $1,800 refrigerator -- have some fire district officials questioning whether taxpayer money is being spent responsibly.
In June, fire district voters approved the purchase of the new truck that will be able to haul 750 gallons of water and store a host of fire rescue equipment, including the Jaws of Life. It’s the first new truck for the fire district in 20 years, with firefighters having to contend with an aging fleet that includes a 1983 pumper truck and a tanker, circa 1976.
The fire district’s truck committee, charged with designing the new pumper, awarded the bid to Pierce Mfg., of Foxboro,which came in with an bid below the voters’ funding cap.
After making some equipment changes in the design, the committee was informed by a sales representative that the fire district would get a $4,000 credit.
That’s when, in a 3-1 vote, the committee approved the additions, which were later upheld by the Cumberland Fire District Board of Commissioners in a Jan. 12 meeting, also in a 3-1 vote.
"I was against it when they were proposed," said Cumberland Fire District Commissioner Paul DiModica, who is chairman of the truck Committee, "When is the radio going to be listened to? Going to a fire during a parade? It was a needless expense. The radio is a distraction."
Cumberland Fire Chief Robert Garon, who also sits on the committee, said he voted against purchasing the stereo equipment, which includes an AM/FM radio, CD player, and speakers. He said there would most likely be a policy created requiring the system turned off when firefighters are responding to an emergency.
He agreed with DiModica that any savings on the new truck should either go back to the taxpayers or used to purchase equipment more beneficial to public safety.
The 2.2 cubic foot refrigerator was another waste of taxpayer money, DiModica said that would take up valuable compartment space in the fire truck. A portion of space was already diminished when the committee discovered the truck was 10 1/2 feet high, an unpractical height for firefighters trying to remove ladders located on top.
In the redesign, the ladders were moved down into the compartment space, taking one foot off the height.
"Members of the truck committee were adamant that we had plenty of compartment space and now we keep eating into it," DiModica said.
He said they were still waiting for the manufacturer notification of how much compartment space they were losing with the changes.
Initially approving the refrigerator to store water for the firefighters when they are on a call, Garon said he now regrets making the decision before getting the updated information from the manufacturer.
But two other committee members, Fire District Commissioner John Shea and firefighter Michael Lafond, said they were confident with their decisions and the committee’s approval of the additional items.
"The taxpayers did give us that amount of money to purchase equipment for the vehicle. We got a list of supplies we deemed necessary and it was approved," said Lafond, a 17-year veteran firefighter.
One advantage to the am/fm radio on board was that firefighters would have the ability to access updated weather reports, Lafond said.
He said he was very comfortable with the vehicle and the fire district was getting a lot of truck for the money.
Stating taxpayer interests were always his concern, Commissioner Shea said that "not in any way, shape or form was it going to hurt anything."
While some might feel a stereo system in a fire truck was a luxury, Shea said he saw it as a morale booster for the firefighters.
"And as far as the refrigerator for water for the firefighters, it is very practical as far as I’m concerned," Shea said.
In poll by The Call to the town three other fire departments -- the Cumberland Hill, North Cumberland, and Valley Falls fire districts -- no other fire trucks, including a 2003 ladder truck, are equipped with stereo equipment except for one brush truck and chief vehicles with am/fm radios.
None of the town’s fire trucks have refrigerators built into them, although fresh water is transported in either coolers or served at room temperature by all the fire districts.
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01-26-2004, 01:50 AM #1
- Join Date
- Apr 2000
CD Player, Refrigerator Questioned on New Fire Truck
01-26-2004, 02:43 AM #2a $1,200 AM/FM radio and CD stereo system
an $1,800 refrigerator
01-26-2004, 03:32 AM #3
$1200 radio; Must be one hell of a radio. Necessary, depends on what they are really listening to. As for the fridge...Well NO.Dude, I told you I'm not yo daddy...
Despite popular beliefs, DarthVader wears leather !!
01-26-2004, 03:46 AM #4One advantage to the am/fm radio on board was that firefighters would have the ability to access updated weather reports, Lafond said.
01-26-2004, 07:29 AM #5
- Join Date
- Sep 1999
- On the way to the station. Really. It's 12 kilometers away and there's traffic.
Funny, I see things the opposite way compared to some people here. I think the stereo may be out of line.. Still, my department has stereos on a couple of our trucks, which came from the factory that way. Both are conventional style rigs designed to have stereos (GMC pickup and E350 ambulance), and I can say that they're worth it, considering the extended amount of time we may be on 'standby' in certain places.
I don't think the fridge is a bad idea. We have 'rehab kits' consisting of water, juice, and snacks at "room" temperature. During a grass fire in the summer, these kits rapidly assume the temperature of the compartment they're in, which could be up to 30C on a hot day. It sure would be nice to have a cold bottle of water while waiting for my pack-pump to be refilled...
One might wonder if the people who are questioning the need for a refrigerator on a pumper in 2004 would have been questioning the need for CISD/CISM in 1974? The fire service is changing, and we're identifying more and more ways we can keep our firefighters happy and healthy. As I said, I can agree wholeheartedly with a mini-fridge. I'm not so sure I could justify a stereo, especially a $1200 system, unless the crews were to pay for it out of their own pockets.
I don't think, beyond cost, there is a reason NOT to have a stereo in an emergency vehicle; as I said, I've been on many calls where we've had to stand by for an extended period of time, or do firewatch, etc., something that does not take a tremendous amount of the crew's capacity. I'd rather have a crew provided with something to listen to (provided it doesn't interfere with the job) than a crew that is having a hard time staying awake because they are sitting there watching a smoldering pile of hay bales with nothing else to do.
01-26-2004, 08:04 AM #6As for the fridge...Well NONYS FF1/AEMT-CC
IAEP Local 152
"You stopped being in charge when I showed up"
01-26-2004, 08:46 AM #7...approving the refrigerator to store water for the firefighters when they are on a call.
Why wait until you get back to the hall to drink the beer when you can stock the engine with it. Soon we may be arguing over alcohol in the Fire Truck.Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!
01-26-2004, 09:00 AM #8
My Engine has a CD player in it and we were told it would cost us $300 to have it REMOVED. So its still in the truckAKA: Mr. Whoo-Whoo
IAFF Local 3900
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01-26-2004, 09:34 AM #9
- Join Date
- Feb 2003
I could remove it for a lot less!
01-26-2004, 01:10 PM #10
A Radio/CD player I don't have a problem with. $1200 I have a problem with...seems to me you could spend a lot less like $200 for a simple setup with two speakers. A $150 scanner would've gotten you weatherband and more.
I don't know how Cumberland operates, but I know I've done babysitting jobs in some of our trucks whether traffic or trees & wires and something to listen too would've been nice. A going to the fire school, it would've saved by Shotgun from having to listen to my singing...
As for a frig, personally I don't like cool/cold beverages when I'm working (they don't settle right in my tummy). On a big box Rescue, fine. Kinda agree with the Chief here though that it's taking out of compartment space that's already pretty precious on a typical pumper.IACOJ Canine Officer
01-26-2004, 02:50 PM #11
- Join Date
- Jun 2002
- Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....
To me, Things like Refrigerators, Stereos, Lawn Chairs, Awnings, Fans, Hair Dryers, Coolers, Etc. are not only acceptable, but downright necessary. Think about REHAB. NFPA thinks about it. The varied health and safety courses taught around the country think about it. As a Chief, I think about it. One Combo dept that I know of didn't think about it and a rookie died. Now the lawyers are having a field day. All the things I listed above are ReHab equipment, and get used for that purpose, often. Stay Safe....Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006
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01-26-2004, 03:35 PM #12
I think having a fridge is one of the best things to have. What’s worse than having FF drop like flies due to dehydration? ALL trucks should carry a supply of drinking water. Having a supply of ice cold water in the middle of those pesky summer mutual-aid structure fires is well worth the cost.
The CD player on the other hand…
01-26-2004, 03:47 PM #13
I'd argue for having the fridge. For hydration purposes there's nothing better than a cool water or sports drink....Luke
01-26-2004, 05:20 PM #14
- Join Date
- Feb 2001
I like the Refer!
The Stereo is pushing it a bit but the refrigerator is an absolute fantastic Idea. Cool vests and cold drinks can be at the ready, not to mention reusable cold packs for EMS. The Chemical Cool packs don’t get all that cool anyhow. AM/FM/CD for what Reason? It serves no practical purpose.“Just when you think something is made to be Idiot Proof. They go a head and make a better Idiot”
01-26-2004, 05:21 PM #15
A $1800 fridge is what i think is in question , I'm sure you could find one cheaper than that. Plus, how much water could you actually carry in a mini refrigerator????Dude, I told you I'm not yo daddy...
Despite popular beliefs, DarthVader wears leather !!
01-26-2004, 06:15 PM #16
- Join Date
- Sep 2003
if the issue is just the cd player and the fridge i feel its directed more towards the price. i can get a good radio cd player installed way less than $1200.00 and same goes for fridge..$1800.00 geez i want to sell a couple of thoseIn memory of Bob Compton. Rest In Peace My Friend.
PROUD TO BE I.A.C.O.J.
01-26-2004, 06:45 PM #17
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!Plus, how much water could you actually carry in a mini refrigerator????
I'm with most of you about the AM/FM/CD though. You've got to be very careful with the "fluff" items when spending the public's money, within a budget or not. That can quickly turn into a PR nightmare, as in this case with the media attention, that most of us don't need.Lt. D. Gordon
Greendale Fire Department
01-26-2004, 08:14 PM #18
I can see the fridge being one of them "essential" items to plead its case to the public, being with the rehab and all. But a $1200 sound system is absurd and a waste of money.9-11-01 FDNY 343 - Lest We Forget
01-26-2004, 08:14 PM #19
- Join Date
- Jul 2003
I think the problem is with the price of both items. We have am/fm in most of our units that we purchased lately. As for the fridge we have one in our rescue I think we only paid a couple hundred dollars for it. It stays plugged in while in the station through the landline. It does not keep it real cold unless someone does not close the door all the way and it freezes up
We do not keep it extremely cold but it sure is better than 90 degree water in summer at a working fire. That way you are not drinking ice water that could upset your stomache. We have went to the eight once bottles of water and keep about 3 or 4 cases in it. We found with the 16oz there was to much waste. Someone would grab a bottle to drink then get assigned to something set it down and not know where or who's was who's.
As far as beer on the truck we do not allow it in the station why would we in the truck. But that is another thread
01-26-2004, 10:06 PM #20
I agree with having the fridge .........but for 18 hundred ? WOW ! I am not a proponent of the whole CD thing but have no objections of having an am/fm radio on board ......but again 12 hundred ! man o man ......IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
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