The Depew Volunteer Fire Department will get a new pumper truck at the cost of about $454,000 — but not a second one that firefighters say is desperately needed.
The new rescue pumper truck will replace one of the two, 30-year-old pumpers no longer meeting safety standards. They have been costing the village money in repairs during the last several years.
The Depew Village Board voted unanimously to award the contract for the new truck to Churchville Fire Equipment, at a cost of $453,889.
However, behind the scenes, the department’s request created political tensions, particularly with Mayor Steven P. Hoffman, who was opposed to the large expense in the face of other village needs that will hit taxpayers.
Earlier this month, the controversy led to a Facebook posting that sparked a police investigation that resulted in no arrests.
Fire officials were grateful, and at least 20 showed up for the vote. However, Fire Chief Joseph A. Whipkey did not mince words afterward. He emphasized that the department needs the second pumper truck.
“We won the battle, but we’re still going to go for the gusto. We’re not done yet,” Whipkey said after the meeting. “We’re satisfied with half of this.”
Whipkey said the six-company department is not considering downsizing — something that the mayor wants. “We are not consolidating, not for the safety of the village,” he said.
As part of the compromise reached on the new truck, the department — by the end of the year — will leave the historic building at 544 Gould Ave., which currently houses fire offices and is used for storage and a weight room, and move to the Northside Fire Station, Whipkey said.
The village will likely borrow more than the nearly $454,000 for the fire truck. Village officials said a larger bond issue could be used for the truck and the purchase of other equipment needs and work for Zurbrick Road. Those details will be worked out over the next month.
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