MAHOPAC, N.Y.— The Mahopac Falls Volunteer Fire Department (MFVFD) held its annual inspection of its fire equipment and apparatus last Sunday at its station No. 1 on Luccaro Lane, providing it with an opportunity to show off its most recent acquisition.
The department recently purchased a new 2016 Smeal tanker/pumper, which will become its first-line apparatus out of its station No. 2. The cost of the behemoth-sized vehicle, which holds 25,000 gallons of water (more than most backyard swimming pools), was $540,000.
“We got it to take the place of an aging tanker from 1992,” said MFVFD Chief Jeff Boyle. “The lifespan on these things is about 30 years as long as they’re properly maintained.”
The truck was paid for with a loan.
“We are able to take a loan from a bank and finance the whole thing,” said MFVFD President Hans Schweizer. “The truck was actually paid for by individual pieces. The chassis was made by one company and was paid for early on last year and sent to the Smeal factory where they built the body, installed the pump and put all the emergency equipment on it. It was more fiscally responsible to borrow money at a lower interest rate than to spend money that we have and not gain that interest. A lot of banks like to loan money to volunteer fire departments [at low interest rates].”
But the department doesn’t just use borrowed money to get the equipment it needs. They are always actively seeking and applying for grant money. MFVFD has the only dive team in the county and it recently received a $40,000 grant from the county for updated equipment.”
“We try to apply for grants as much as we can because it helps eliminate having to put additional money into the budget for our contract that we get from the town,” Schweizer said. “We also do fundraising to offset the cost of equipment we purchase and for the benefits for the members.”
The department recently received a state grant for $207,000 to buy self-contained breathing apparatus (air packs) they use for interior work in house fires.
“We were able to outfit the entire department with new air packs, Schweizer said, “and the old air packs were relegated to training.”
The department also received a $50,000 grant procured by Sen. Terrence Murphy to buy a new compressor for station No. 1.
“We can buy things we normally can’t afford without wiping out our reserves,” Schweizer said of the grant money.
Boyle said the annual inspections, like the one on Sunday, are performed by chiefs from neighboring departments and ex-chiefs from MFVFD and are mostly ceremonial.
“It’s a great day for our members and for our visiting chiefs and our ex-chiefs,” he said. “It gives them an opportunity to come down here and check the equipment that our members have been working on for the last month and a half. The members of this department worked many, many hours on the equipment. It looks beautiful. It shows their dedication to the fire department.”
Boyle said the inspection was a “morale-booster” for the department.
“They did a tremendous job on this equipment. Everything was removed from the vehicle; everything has been painted; it’s been power washed; it’s immaculate inside and out,” the chief said. “It’s great for the apparatus because it gets a complete overhaul.”
Schweizer added, “In this business we’re in, these things and have to be ready to go at a moment’s notice and we can’t have any fails.”