Fire chief to get bids for ladder truck

GLOVERSVILLE – After months without one, the city may get a new ladder truck for the Fire Department.

The Common Council on Tuesday authorized city Fire Chief Beth Whitman-Putnam to seek bids from different manufacturers of ladder trucks with water-pumping capabilities.

Whitman-Putnam said based on what she has learned, the new ladder truck could cost the city as much as $1 million.

“We are not looking for an aerial truck that has all the bells and whistles; we are just looking for a truck that will meet our department’s needs,” she said. “To safely and effectively provide fire protection for the city it is imperative that we have an aerial apparatus in service. It is essential for the safety of my firefighters and the community.”

The chief told the council Tuesday the Fire Department was denied federal grant money for a new truck for the fifth year in a row.

However, Whitman-Putnam said despite the fact the grant was denied, she still wanted to go ahead and seek bids for a new ladder truck.

“We didn’t get the grant we were hoping for and, at this point, I feel like we have been fiscally responsible the last few years to be able to spend a little bit of money on a down payment and then use a five-year bond to pay for the remainder of the firetruck,” Mayor Dayton King said after the meeting. “That truck should last us about 20 years and, again, they are certainly expensive trucks and a pricey number to look at, but I think it is something we need in the city.”

King also said the city may be able to safely reduce staffing by having the ladder truck in the Fire Department’s fleet.

Whitman-Putnam said most fire departments buy trucks new and have them designed to meet their particular needs. While some used trucks are available, they may not fit the city’s needs such as ladder height and tank capacity, she said.

Whitman-Putnam also said through the bid process, the department is trying to educate itself by viewing and looking into different aerial apparatus from a variety of manufacturers.

The city needs a truck with an aerial platform with pumping capabilities that includes at least a 100 foot aerial ladder, a 2,000-gallon-per-minute pump, and a tank capacity of 500 gallons.

One of the trucks officials previously looked at is a vehicle that combines functions of a typical engine pump and an aerial ladder, the chief said, so the department would have a single truck that could function in several ways.

The chief said it will take at least a year to have the firetruck manufactured to meet the city’s needs.

The department fights fires in all buildings regardless of height, but the aerial device is needed for elevated master streams and reaching heights greater than two stories for rescue, fire suppression, and other operations, Whitman-Putnam said.

Gloversville has 129 buildings that are three stories or taller.

While other departments with aerial trucks can help, the chief said, waiting on another department’s equipment is still a real concern.

She said the city is required by the Insurance Services Office to have a ladder truck because there are five or more buildings in the city that are three stories tall or greater. The ISO also requires a ladder to be within 2 1/2 miles of the coverage area, she said.

The Johnstown Fire Department, which has a fairly new aerial truck paid for in part with federal money, is on standby to respond to fires in Gloversville.

If Johnstown is not available, the Amsterdam Fire Department can be asked to respond, Whitman-Putnam said.

Gloversville’s last ladder truck, with a 110-foot aerial ladder, was taken out of permanent emergency service in November 2011 after it failed inspection because of corroded and broken parts.

The previous year, the city had paid $22,000 for repairs so that it could pass its aerial test and inspection.

The department originally sought to sell the 22-year-old truck on June 11 but later learned it could make more money by selling it for scrap. It sold for $5,600 on June 15.

Levi Pascher covers Gloversville news. He can be reached by email at