Jeanne Sager | Democrat
CELEBRATING THE ARRIVAL of the new ladder truck were, front row, from left, Ladies Auxiliary members Darlene Mantzauratos, Karen Darbee, Charlene Medla, Eileen Mershon and Lisa Chesney. Second row: Fireman Charlie Rampe, Second Assistant Chief Steve Hecht, First Assistant Chief Keith Travers, Chief Steve Chesney, Fire Commissioner Board Chair Pete Passaro and Commissioner Don Walters. Back row: Firemen Tom Schier and Eric Ehlers.
Roscoe FD gets free ladder truck
By Dan Hust
ROSCOE Sometimes it pays to really read the paper.
Keith Travers was paging through a firematic newspaper when a notice popped out at him help for fire departments available.
The assistant chief of the Roscoe Fire Department marked the page and handed it over to Lisa Chesney, head of the ladies auxiliary and wife of chief Steve Chesney.
“I started looking in early ’08 for foundations, donations, etc. for the proposed new firehouse for Roscoe,” Lisa recalled.
Using the article from Travers, she called on the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund hoping they’d have money available to lessen the load on Roscoe taxpayers. There was no money.
But last week, wheelchair-bound Lisa took a ride sky-high in the bucket on the department’s first-ever ladder truck.
It was a little thank you from the guys because the new ladder truck came from the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund.
Named for a New York City fireman who lost his life rescuing people at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, the fund collects surplus fire equipment from larger fire departments and sends it to squads in need around the country.
Earlier this spring, Terry’s brother Brian drove up from his home in Long Island to bring turnout gear, lightbars, radios, stokes baskets and ice and cold water rescue suits some of it brand new to the volunteers in Roscoe.
It was all free.
“Though we did fill his truck with gas and bought him lunch!” Lisa said.
The department went through the donations and set aside what they could use. What they couldn’t they passed on to neighboring volunteer squads. They couldn’t believe their luck.
The cold water rescue suits alone were worth $500 apiece, Travers said, and Farrell brought five to Roscoe. He brought brand new fire police vests and brand new bunker pants.
Then the big call came. In May, Farrell contacted Lisa. Southampton Fire Department, an all volunteer squad on Long Island, had an old ladder truck they no longer needed.
“Steve and I both talked to him and then spoke to the Chairman of Fire Commissioners,” Lisa recalled. “This started a series of phone calls and letters between myself and Chief Joe Corr from Southampton.”
They ironed out the details. The Roscoe Rockland Fire District would take ownership of the truck and hand it over to the fire department. No money would ever change hands.
Last week, Chief Steve Chesney, Board of Commissioners Chair Pete Passaro, Commissioner Don Walters and firemen Eric Ehlers and Charlie Rampe took a ride down to Southampton.
They trained on the truck then turned it north.
“They pulled in to Roscoe just in time for drill night so the firemen ‘drilled’ with the new ladder truck at Firemen's Park,” Lisa said with a grin. Then they put her up in the bucket.
She got to see what Roscoe’s firemen can do now. They can get to the top floor at the Roscoe Community Nursing Home or the top of the Campbell Inn. They can reach across a flooded area to rescue stranded Roscoe residents.
They can work on chimney fires or provide mutual aid to any of the surrounding fire departments that don’t have a ladder truck. After all, most companies in Sullivan County have never been able to afford a ladder truck.
The firemen in Callicoon, Liberty, Loch Sheldrake, Monticello and Fallsburg are the only ones trained to use a ladder truck, the only ones with a ladder truck parked in their bays.
Because free trucks don’t grow on trees.
“It’s just unbelievable the costs of trucks these days,” Passaro said.
If this ladder truck were new, the cost estimate was $2.1 million. As it stands, the truck that rolled into Roscoe last week is worth approximately $200,000.
The truck is a 1973 Sutphen built, ironically, at Sutphen East Corporation, right here in Sullivan County. It’s only been driven 16,000 miles since it was put into service, and it’s still in top condition. In fact, it was re-certified by New York State earlier this year for use in the line of duty.
“It’s probably something we’d never get in a million years,” Travers said.
“I’m ecstatic over it,” Steve Chesney said with a grin that swept from one side of the chief’s face to the other.
Equally ecstatic are the commissioners, who have spent the last few weeks cutting down the building project shot down by voters in April.
“It shows our community we are willing to turn over every rock and every stone possible to save the taxpayers money,” Walters said of the truck. “You just can’t say no to a piece of equipment like this.”
“You don’t say no,” Passaro added. “You say thank you!”
The truck could start saving taxpayers money as soon as their next insurance renewal, Chesney said a fire department with a ladder truck shows up on the fire insurance rating for a homeowner.
It also represents an attempt, Walters said, to save money in other areas to offset the costs of a building. So far, they’ve been whittling down the $3.25 million project, cutting out a large kitchen, commissioners room and office space for a total reduction of 3,700 square feet. The number on the table for taxpayers at the next firehouse vote will be $2.45 million.
With a $600,000 grant, the number to be funded by taxes will be $1.85 million, expected to cost $216 per year for a house assessed at $100,000.
“People spend more than that on coffee,” Passaro said, pointing to the estimated monthly cost for an $80,000 house - $14.
The commissioners met with taxpayers late last month, and another informational session has been set for Thursday, July 17, at the firehouse at 7 p.m. The firehouse vote will be held in September.