EAST PROVIDENCE — The issue of the aging East Providence Fire Department Advanced Life Support Rescue fleet came to the fore over the last few weeks as Chief Joseph Klucznik approached the Budget Commission for permission to begin the process of replacing the out-moded vehicles.
Chief Klucznik, City Manager Peter Graczykowski and acting Finance Director John Cimino were granted ability to send out a Request for Proposal (RFP) in an attempt to replace three of the department’s most worn ALS rescues by the Commission at its meeting on July 26.
The RFP comes at no cost to the city. It allows Chief Klucznik the chance to work on the specifications and requirements of the vehicles with Fleet Manager Bill McMahon and EPFD Director of Emergency Services John Potvin. Chief Klucznik said, start to finish, the best-case scenario would see the vehicles delivered to the department by this time next year.
“There are a number of factors we have to consider when we design the vehicle. There are requirements from the Department of Health, the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Department of Transportation. I need to sit down with Bill and John and we need to figure out what works best for us,” Chief Klucznik said, adding the design component of the process could take anyway between four to eight weeks.
Each vehicle would come at a cost of roughly $250,000. Federal grants are being sought to offset the price tag. There’s a chance the rescues could cost the city only about 10 percent of the total expense or approximately $25,000 apiece if the EPFD receives the maximum amount of grant dollars available. The vehicles would be acquired through a five-year lease program. According to the chief, the EPFD should know if the grant money is available to it and how much anytime from October of this year to February of next.
“There’s at least a seven-to-12-month turn-around on the vehicles once we actually submit the order to the manufacturer. These vehicles aren’t on the lot. You can’t just go and pick them up. The vehicles are specifically designed and built to order,” Chief Klucznik added.
The Rescues to be replaced are Nos. 3, 5 and 6. Rescue 3 is a model year 2000 International/AEV with 157.705 miles on the engine. Rescue 5 is a 1999 International/AEV with 141,440 miles. Rescue 6 is a 2000 International/AEV with 157,490 though the odometer no longer works.
The three Rescues are currently in reserve only, put into use when the three newer models — Rescues 1, 2 and 4 — are unavailable or are in need of service. The vehicles, according to Chief Klucznik’s summary, are “outdated” because they can no longer accommodate more modern radios and equipment and also do not have “reliable” air conditioning and heating units for the patients. In addition, finding replacement parts for the vehicles is becoming increasingly difficult due to the age of the vehicles. Updating the fleet would also obviously cut down on maintenance expenses incurred by the city.
More EPFD notes
The EPFD has earned some news coverage recently due to significant events at a house fire on Central Avenue and another similar incident at the City View Manor elderly residence nearby across Broadway on Goldsmith Avenue.
“We had two large-scale events that got some publicity. Our guys did a great job and we got some help from other departments. But we do that kind of stuff every day, though on a smaller scale,” Chief Klucznik said. “These two events just happened to be newsworthy, but our guys are out there every day doing their jobs to protect the city.”
As part of the Central Avenue fire, which displaced two families from a multi-unit apartment house, the EPFD received mutual aid from Barrington, Seekonk and Pawtucket as well as Providence. The city, of course, is planning to end its rescue mutual aid with Providence in just a few weeks, barring a resolution of the conflict between the sides. North Providence, Attleboro and Warren Fire Departments offered secondary assistance during the event.