More than $300,000 in federal funding will help Orient Fire Department purchase a new tanker truck to replace the now-outdated truck firefighters use today.
The department’s current tanker dates back to 1972, making it much older than is normally recommended for fire vehicles, said Fire Chief Robert Haase.
Trucks are recommended to be used as backup once 20 years old and to be retired once they are 30 years old, according to guidelines from the National Fire Protection Association.
Without the grant funding, it would have been impossible to replace the tanker quickly, Chief Haase said.
The $308,750 grant comes through the competitive Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters program, said U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who said the funding would help save lives.
“First responders are our primary line of defense and this investment will help ensure that our local heroes can continue their life-saving work as efficiently and safely as possible,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement.
The new 2,500-gallon tanker truck will be used by the department to provide water at the scene of fires when no hydrants are nearby. The truck will also feature improved safety measures and will be able to pump the water at a higher rate than the current tanker, Chief Haase said.
The department is moving to get the new tanker on the road as soon as possible.
“We have exactly a year to close out the grant,” Chief Haase said. “We’ve already put specifications together and put out the bid.”
He hopes to have the new tanker on the road in about six months.
The fire chief said with the federal funding secured, the department will be able to put the money it had saved to buy the tanker toward upgrading other equipment and vehicles in the district.
The last vehicle purchased by the district was a fire engine nearly 25 years ago, he said.