REXFORD, N.Y. — Firefighters with Rexford Fire District’s John McLane Hose Company last week accepted a $50,000 state grant that enabled the district to update emergency lifesaving equipment.
The grant was secured by state Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, whose 49th Senate District includes the fire district. The funds reimburse the district nearly all of the $53,000 cost of the battery-operated hydraulic tools used for extricating drivers and passengers trapped in their vehicles after auto accidents.
In a ceremony held behind the brick firehouse at 1601 Route 146 (Balltown Road) in Rexford, Tedisco discussed the need for first responders like the department’s firefighters to have the equipment needed in an emergency.
“There are three things that I think are important for first responders, especially so for those in the Rexford Volunteer Fire Department; immediacy, training to mitigate and save lives, and the equipment necessary for each and every situation that we can provide for them,” he said.
Tedisco noted that the Rexford Fire Department had antiquated equipment which it had used for many years when called to vehicle accidents. Now, he said, thanks to the grant his office was providing, the department was able to update the tools needed to get people trapped in their vehicles out safely and quickly after an accident.
“The equipment they’ve purchased will help save lives and also reduce the types of injury they have after a serious accident,” Tedisco said.
Joining Tedisco at the check presentation ceremony were Clifton Park Supervisor Philip Barrett, Rexford Fire District Board of Commissioners Chairman Larry Gates, Fire Chief Aaron Cote, several other fire commissioners, and members of the department’s active firefighter roster.
Barrett reminded everyone present of the number of storms that had passed through the town in recent weeks and the emergency calls and cleanup they created.
“When they occur these men and women you see here today are running from call to call,” he said. “It’s a non-ending array of calls from Clifton Park residents saying they need assistance. I think we all recognize that our first responders, our volunteer firefighters like the ones here at the Rexford Fire Department are the lifeblood of our public safety in our communities. These people are ready 24/7 to save lives.”
Gates noted the new equipment will help protect not only the fire district’s residents but all the people who travel through it on the busy corridor that goes past the firehouse. He also made note of the benefits it will have during mutual aid calls.
“The equipment we had was 30-plus years old and the company that manufactured it was out of business so we couldn’t get parts,” he said. “This funding is a great asset to our district and will help us for years to come.”
In describing the purchasing process Cote, the department’s chief said the district brought in several manufacturers to demonstrate their tools and let the firefighters test them. The number of companies was then narrowed to two. The department asked for and received two sets of tools for further tests and a committee of firefighters headed out to test them on several junked autos.
When the testing was complete, the committee recommended the district buys spreaders, cutters, a ram, a combination tool and six struts for stabilizing a vehicle from Genesis Rescue Tools.
West Crescent Volunteer Fire Department, East Glenville Fire Department, the city of Schenectady’s fire departments and Brunswick’s fire department all have the same tools.
“Our old equipment was hydraulic,” Cote said. “We would connect it to a power plant on one of our vehicles to power it, but we could only use one tool at a time. These tools are hydraulic too, but they are battery operated so we can perform multiple tasks at one time.”
To show how well the tools work Cote, Lt. Ted Robak and firefighter Don Sequin went to work taking two doors and a support bar off a junked, silver-brown, 2003 Ford Focus using a spreader and a combination tool. Within 50 seconds the front door was off the car and leaning against the front bumper. The passenger door was off just as quickly.
Cote said the district’s Board of Commissioners wrote to Tedisco in October 2017 about the possibility of getting a grant and that he wrote back he was working to secure funds.
In March of this year, the district was notified it had been awarded the grant and in purchased the equipment in June. In July it was delivered to the station and was put into use the first week of August.