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Funds approved for truck

Tawnya Panizzi
| Thursday, Sept. 18, 2003

O'HARA: Money tentatively earmarked to purchase a $1 million vehicle for Guyasuta Volunteer Fire Department was approved last week by council.

But, that doesn't mean the purchase of an aerial truck is forthcoming, Township Manager Doug Arndt said.

"Council still needs to look at it and approve everything," he said.

The money, up to $1 million which would be needed to purchase the ladder truck, was approved as part of a $4,430,000 bond issue during last week's council meeting.

It is a move that council has anticipated for some time after being faced last year with a request from each of the township's three fire departments for new vehicles.

The purchase became an especially heated topic of debate after council narrowed its choice to two, one being an aerial truck for Guyasuta and the other a pumper for Parkview, which ultimately won out. In 2002, council gave $330,000 toward the purchase of a new pumper at Parkview to replace its aging truck.

Still, an aerial has maintained support by some council members who have said it is a necessity with the impending housing developments along the river, which will include a five-story office complex and a living facility for senior citizens. The truck would be equipped with a 100-foot ladder and basket.

"There's been a need for one for years," said Guyasuta Fire Chief Mike Dortenzo. "With the number of hi-rises on this side of town, it's a safety issue."

Aerial trucks are dispatched routinely to hi-rise calls, Dortenzo said. The department currently has an agreement with Undercliff Fire Department in Shaler to dispatch its ladder truck when needed. It was used most recently when the crew responded to small fire at The Mews along Fox Chapel Road. The truck also is used frequently for calls at RIDC Park, Dortenzo said.

Guyasuta has called on Undercliff about 20 times in the past year, Dortenzo said.

As construction of the residential and business development progresses along the Allegheny River, it will become essential for the township fleet to include an aerial truck, he said.

"It's easier to get people down in basket than down a straight ladder," he said. "With a group home going in and a five-story office building, we're looking at how to properly address the safety issues."

Dortenzo feels that council is on board with the purchase and said he will work with whatever timeline it approves.

The money potentially could come from the bond issue approved by council last week. That money also may help pay for a $1 million sewer line construction project for the East Little Pine Creek area. About $1.1 million of the new bond is money from an existing loan that was refinanced.

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