City seeks bids for ladder fire truck

GLOVERSVILLE – The city will seek bids for the purchase of a new fire truck with a ladder that extends at least 95 feet.

The city council on Tuesday unanimously approved seeking the bids.

Fire Chief Beth Whitman-Putnam said based on what she has learned, the midmount quint aerial platform fire truck could cost as much as $1 million.

However, she said she won’t have a definite price until the bids come back.

Mayor Dayton King said the city would be able to afford the purchase. He said the city could use some of the $3.5 million in the general fund for a down payment and borrow for the rest of the cost. The city could pay off the bond in five years, he said.

Despite the expense, King is confident city taxes will go down.

“We are going to decrease taxes next year,” King said.

The city clerk’s office will accept bids until 10 a.m. July 16.

First Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth praised the fire chief and Department of Public Works Director Kevin Jones for the work they did to finalize the bid packet.

“It is beautiful and you guys did a great job,” Wentworth said.

King said no public vote would be necessary to acquire the fire truck.

The council may give final approval of the fire truck once the bids are submitted.

The federal government denied the Fire Department grant money for a ladder truck for five years in a row.

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.

The chief said her department and other city officials have been doing research on a new fire truck for a year.

The city needs a truck with an aerial platform with pumping capabilities that includes at least a 95-foot aerial ladder, a 2,000-gallon-per-minute pump, and a tank capacity of 500 gallons.

The quint aerial platform 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 department fights fires in all buildings regardless of height, but the aerial device is needed for 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.

She said the city is required by the Insurance Services Office to have a ladder truck because five or more buildings in the city are three stories tall or higher. 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 an aerial truck paid for in part with federal money, now 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 the truck could pass its aerial test and inspection.

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

The chief said the previous truck didn’t hold any water or have a pump. The new quint vehicle would have that ability.

Levi Pascher can be reached by email at