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OFD Floats Proposal For Rescue Boat

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego Fire Department is looking for ways to come up with the cash for a new rescue boat.

Earlier this spring, Jeff McCrobie, fire chief, requested the Common Council accept the low bid for the new 26-foot custom fire rescue boat submitted by Almar/North River Boats in the amount of $171,292.14 with additional options of $8,840.

The price tag for training for personnel is $22,400.

The total cost for the new rescue boat and training would be $202,532.14.

After the FEMA Grant of $149,538, $10,000 donation from Brookfield Renewable Power, a previous donation of $5,726.50 and Oswego Fire Department transfer of $8,000, the unfunded balance is $29,267.64.

The Common Council would need to determine a funding source for the unfunded balance in order for the city to utilize the FEMA Port Security Grant Program Award.

Previously, councilors held off taking any action on the request until a viable funding source could be found.

McCrobie told councilors Monday might that he has been exploring various possibilities. However, he cautioned, those might not come to fruition until after the deadline for the FEMA Port Security Grant.

The Administrative Services Committee recommended allowing the chief to use city funds – up to 29,675 – to help facilitate the purchase, provided those funds are replenished once the chief secures funding from outside sources.

The full council will vote on the proposal on July 8.

US Rep. Dan Maffei is assisting the department in locating some “possible revenue sources that we didn’t think of. Basically we’ve been trying to beat the bushes to find a way to close this $29,000 gap,” the chief said.

He added that “a couple local entities” are another possible funding source. He declined to name them specifically.

Federal as well as the Oswego County Emergency Management Office are other possible partners.

“The bad news is we’re a committee meeting and a council meeting away losing the 45 days on accepting this (grant). I have no money in my pocket for this,” McCrobie explained. “I don’t see it all coming in on time. It’s an excellent opportunity. I just don’t think we should let this slip by.”

The department’s current rescue boat is more than 28 years old and has been out for repairs twice now (and is currently out of service), McCrobie said.

First Ward Councilor Fran Enwright wondered if they could knock off a few dollars by not getting all the bells and whistles associated with the boat such as the radar.

“I’m sorry, but this radar deal, I don’t think that’s a necessity. I think the GPS package is but that can be separated out. If you need a radar to go up that river, you shouldn’t even be on that river. I’m sorry. I mean if you got that kind of fog, you can’t see the bridge, don’t go. I mean the Coast Guard’s not going to go out in that.”

He also suggested moving the training cost into the 2014 budget.

“We can’t take off the city’s portion and have the federal government pay the whole grant,” the chief explained. “It’s 20 percent coming from us whether it’s $202,000 or if it’s $150,000.

As far as the Coast Guard goes up the river is about the former Colemen’s site, the chief added.

“The radar isn’t for the lighthouse or bridge abutments. It’s for the rocks and stones underneath (the water). When you see how low the river is sometimes, you could walk through there, but you can’t do it blindly,” McCrobie said. “And, it’s another reason why we train. You have to get a feel for where these rocks are and stuff.”

“We’re edging on the term of ‘Baywatch’ now. Our whole goal here is really trying to restrict overtime. We keep branching out; I am just being just a little bit optimistically cautious about this whole deal. I know it’s a good deal and everything. But you’ve got to understand what my concerns are,” Enwright said.

“The bottom line is there are fishermen; there are calls there, we need a boat,” the chief explained. “We’re not running Miami Beach … ‘Baywatch.’ It’s something we need.”

The councilor said he didn’t argue that point but felt “it’s a little overkill for what we do. This is not your everyday rescue boat, it’s quite sophisticated. That’s part of my concern.”

“We are a port city. We are located on a lake,” Council President Ron Kaplewicz said. “I think it’s great to have the capability to fight fires on the water, should we need it.”

He pointed to some of the cargo that arrives at the port as being a potential fire hazard.

McCrobie pointed out that maintenance for the new boat would cost a lot less than for the current boat. It’s so old they don’t make a lot of parts for the boat the city has right now, he added.

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