East Providence Police, Fire gain Commission consent for vehicle purchases

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EAST PROVIDENCE — Just in time, especially for the fire rescue fleet, the East Providence Budget Commission approved the purchase of replacement vehicles by the city’s public safety departments during its meeting Thursday afternoon, Feb. 14, at City Hall.

The Commission gave its blessing for the East Providence Fire Department to purchase the first of what ultimately needs to be a complete overhaul of its rescue fleet. Acting Chief Oscar Elmasian delivered the request to the Commission for the acquisition of a used Advanced Life Support vehicle at a cost of $36,000.

Chief Elmasian described the rescue as a year 2007 model with low mileage. The vehicle will be purchased from New England Fire & Apparatus. The original asking price for the rescue was $49,000. The chief said he was able to negotiate the cost down to $30,000. The other $6,000 is needed to transfer equipment, such as radio and computer systems, and letter the vehicle with EPFD badges.

The purchase of the used rescue, money for which would come from EPFD rescue billing receipts, is seen as a needed stop-gap measure as the department attempts to procure federal grant money to overall the entire fleet of six active and three replacement vehicles.

The newest rescue in the active fleet is a 2007 model with nearly 150,000 miles. The oldest is a year 1999 with similar mileage. The recently-purchased used vehicle would remain active until the first new vehicle is ready for duty, a building process that takes upwards of six months once funding is secured.

Chief Elmasian also learned during Thursday’s meeting one of the department’s rescues had been disabled after having been involved in an accident that afternoon.

Talk regarding the purchase delved into the larger topic of wear and tear on EPFD rescues and the status of Mutual Aid between the department and its counterpart from Providence.

Chief Elmasian told the Commission supporting runs to the Capital City have decreased significantly, likely in half, since the Providence Fire Department initiated new protocols late last fall in response to threats to end Mutual Aid service from surrounding communities, including East Providence.

The chief explained the city actually earns about $48,000 in profit from its aid to Providence, money it counts on in these tight budgetary times. He also said Providence provides his department with radio services it wouldn’t otherwise be able to have.

Mutual Aid became a topic of concern when politicians from East Providence, North Providence and Johnston voiced their displeasure with the discrepancies in the “risk-reward” their municipalities received under the former terms of their deals with Providence.

Budget Commission members Michael O’Keefe and Stephen Bannon, the latter a former high-ranking public safety officer in the State Police, questioned if the benefits outweighed the toll Mutual Aid takes on the EPFD fleet. Chief Elmasian insisted it did.

The Commission still asked Chief Elmasian to review the matter and report back to it with updated facts and figures at its next meeting on Feb. 28.

Also of note from the Fire Department, the Commission Thursday approved the acquisition of new uniforms, per contractual agreement, for firefighters. The one-time purchase is estimated to cost between $50,000 and $60,000.

The East Providence Police Department’s plan to begin the replacement of its entire fleet of cruisers, a topic discussed in greater detail at the previous Commission meeting on Jan. 31, received easy approval Thursday.

The Commission hesitated to approve the request two weeks prior due to lack of a more detailed, longer-ranging plan to replace vehicles in the future. EPPD transportation supervisor Sergeant Michael Grant provided the Commission with an updated forecast Thursday and the measure passed quickly.

Over the next several months, the  department will completely overhaul its fleet of some 40 vehicles at a cost of just over $3.1 million, money which will mostly be derived from Asset Forfeiture funds. Several of the current vehicles will be passed on to other departments in the city. In the future, the EPPD will begin yearly replacements of 12 vehicles at a time starting in Fiscal Year 2015-16.

In another development involving the EPPD, the Commission approved the use of federal grant money towards adding security cameras and access control equipment at East Providence High School, the E.P. Career and Technical School as well as both Martin and Riverside Middle Schools.

The project must be completed by March 31 of this year. Dane Tech Inc., a Johnston company that has provided similar work to the school department in the past, secured the winning bid of $37,150.50. EPPD Lieutenant Michael David and School Department Facilities Supervisor Tony Feola oversee the project.

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