Albion faces likely $3 million expense to replace ladder truck, pumper

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 February 2023 at 4:13 pm

Village officials open to exploring fire district to oversee fire protection for Albion, Gaines

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Albion Fire Department ladder truck was utilized on Jan. 29 for a chimney fire in Gaines at a house at the intersection of Route 279 and Route 104.

ALBION – The Village Board is mulling how to pay for two new fire trucks that together could be close to $3 million.

The Albion Fire Department has been strongly urging the village in recent years to prepare for replacing a ladder truck from 1996 and a pumper from 1992. Another pumper is 16 years old.

Former Fire Chief Harry Papponetti said current estimates for a new ladder truck are $1.7 million and $900,000 for a new pumper. And it could take three or four years for a new truck to get built because of a shortage of materials.

Papponetti and the fire department leaders have suggested a ladder truck with pumper capabilities and a new pumper. Those two truck would replace the ladder truck and the two current pumpers.

The fire department is funded by village taxpayers, with the towns of Albion and Gaines also paying a fire protection contract.

Deputy Mayor Joyce Riley said too much of the department’s budget is on village taxpayers. She would like to see the village pursue Papponetti’s suggestion of a fire district that would include the village and two towns. The contributions to department’s budget would be based on the tax base in each municipality.

Riley thinks it would be a fairer way to finance the department.

The Village Board would like to hear more on the pros and cons of the fire district. It would operate under oversight of elected fire commissioners, instead of the Village Board. The board of commissioners could be set up so each municipality has representation.

The Village Board is looking at the costs of financing the trucks through bonds, including what the annual debt payment would be depending on the duration of the bond and the amount.

Papponetti said the older fire trucks have diminishing value but increasing costs for repairs and maintenance. The ladder truck was recently out of commission for three weeks for a $22,000 engine repair. Papponetti estimated the 27-year-old truck is only worth about $30,000 now.

The cost of the fire trucks has escalated in the past generation. Papponetti said the ladder truck was $525,000 in 1996 and now would be three times that price or even more.

He sees as fire district as a way to expand the tax base in supporting the fire department, giving the volunteers the needed equipment to respond to fires and other emergencies.