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Patchogue Votes: New fire rescue truck goes to referendum Tuesday

Patchogue Fire District rescue truck referendum. (Michael White)

Correction: The Patchogue Fire District vote at fire headquarters is from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Patchogue Village has experienced sweeping physical changes over the past few years, from the rows of new townhouses on the south side of Main Street to the sprawling, four-story New Village complex on the north side of town.

And Patchogue’s firefighting officials expect more build-out to come.

To be best prepared, they say, the Patchogue Fire District is looking to replace its 33-year-old rescue truck, which responds to emergencies big and small in the village and beyond.

The truck is worn down and can’t hold all the tools Patchogue firefighters would ideally have on hand should an emergency occur in some of the larger, newer buildings — or, say, a large hotel, should one be built.

So voters will be asked Tuesday, March 15, to allow the fire district to spend $850,000 on a new rescue truck and accompanying equipment, such as upgrades to the current Jaws of Life tools mounted on the truck.

Related: Sample ballot for Patchogue Village Board elections Tuesday

Unlike with the Village Board elections, voting will only take place at fire headquarters at 15 Jennings Avenue, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The Pierce rescue truck would be paid for over a five-year loan with a big chunk of the money — to the tune of $180,000 to $200,000 — put down through a truck reserve fund, explained Gibrila “Z” Banse, a district commissioner.

The expenditure would not result in higher taxes, he added.

“No taxes will go up,” Banse said. “The way we designed this purchase, everything is going to be funded from within our budget. So we will not have to go out to bond. We will not have to raise taxes. Nothing like that.”

Read the referendum language in its entirety below.

“Maintenance-wise, we’re spending tons of money maintaining it,” Banse said of the current rescue truck. “And then the space … This truck was designed more or less to have a team of firefighters ride in the back of  the truck, so you’re losing valuable space.”

Firefighters in the new truck would sit up front in a cab as with the department’s other firetrucks. That configuration would free up room in the rest of the truck for new equipment like extension ladders.

“We would need extension ladders on the top floor,” of New Village,” explained Patchogue’s Chief of Department, Joe Arabia. “Believe it or not, Tritec [the New Village developers] bought us these special ladders that we can use up there, we just don’t have room anywhere on our current trucks to put them.”

Since New Village is close to the firehouse on Jennings Avenue, the firefighters would currently carry the ladders over to the apartment complex, he said.

To be clear, firefighters are currently able to reach all the floors at New Village and other taller buildings in the village by ladder and bucket.

“The extension ladders are for the fine tune work, on the inside,” Banse said.

The new truck would likely not be built and then delivered until sometime in 2018 or late 2017.

Polls will be open from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Patchogue Fire Headquarters at 15 Jennings Avenue.

mike@greaterpatchogue.com

Photo: Chief Joe Arabia on the back of Patchogue FD’s 33-year-old rescue truck. (Michael White)

Patchogue Fire District Mandatory Referendum Notice Fire Rescue Truck 2-8-16

About the author: Michael White

Michael White is a Bellport resident, longtime newspaper reporter and editor, and the owner of greaterpatchogue.com. Email him your story ideas or tips: mike@greaterpatchogue.com