Fire Chief Gene Giancaspo moved around the green at Liberty State Park on June 24 like a kid on Christmas Eve, pausing to inspect each of the six new fire vehicles that were added to the fleet this week.
They represented a $3.2 million upgrade in Jersey City Fire Department apparatus and are part of an aggressive two-year replacement program.
“These are brand new vehicles,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “We have not bought new fire equipment in a couple of years and this is really a commitment to making sure the fire department has all the equipment needed to be the premier Fire Department.”
The new equipment includes a 100-foot ladder truck, a 95-foot tower ladder truck, a 2,000 gallon/minute pumper truck, two 1,500 gallon/minute pumper trucks, an urban high water rescue vehicle with pumping capabilities and an inflatable boat.
Fulop said these were acquired through a combination of federal grants, low interest loans, and capital investments. They are the first major purchases made for the Fire Department in more than a decade.
“When we took over we were shutting down companies because we did not have a fire truck for them,” said Public Safety Director James Shea. “That doesn’t happen anymore. Now we’re turning out more companies that we did. We have spare trucks. We’re even lending one to Hoboken.”
New equipment for a more vertical city
The new vehicles include a ladder truck that can extend up seven stories. In a city with a number of new high rise apartment buildings, this is a necessity.
Fulop, when a councilman, helped push for the establishment of unit specifically trained for high rise fires.
The Jersey City Fire Department has 26 trucks on duty and another six to eight spares. “Without six to eight spares, we could never keep 26 companies open,” Shea said. “When we took over, we were down sometimes to 18 or 19 companies.”
Jersey City has mutual aid agreements with all the surrounding towns. “But it’s not just surrounding towns; people’s lives are at stake. If someone asks for aid, we’ll give it to them,” Shea said.
Fulop said his administration has hired 66 new firefighters since his taking office in July 2013.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.