Albany fire chief seeks money to reinforce firehouse

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Albany Fire Chief spoke at the Albany Public Safety Committee meeting Thursday to find additional funding for the department.

The newest fire engine for Albany Fire Station No. 1 is too heavy for the building. The historic building was built for a horse drawn steamer and doesn’t fit the bigger and heavier equipment that firefighters need.

Leah Golby is the chair of the Public Safety Committee. She said Albany Fire Station No. 1 is the second busiest in the city.

“That fire station is a very busy fire station,” she said. “The surrounding buildings are older.”

With high demand came an upgrade.

“That 750 gallon tank – that’s a big deal for us,” Chief Warren Abriel said. “That’s something that we strived for a long time.”

Abriel said the extra 250 gallons give firefighters an extra minute in the event where seconds matter. But now they do not have anywhere to put it.

The floor of the historic firehouse can’t support its weight. Engineers suggest it will cost tens of thousands of dollars to reinforce the flooring, but the department has a strict budget.

“We may be able to get by with $60,000,” Abriel said.

Abriel mentioned his budget needs at the Public Safety Committee meeting Thursday, but the additional funds may not come until 2015.

“I think it really remains to be seen,” Golby said. “As things stand now, with what the chief told us, it will be addressed in next year’s budget.”

Some are worried that’s not soon enough. Keith Sipollo is the Vice President of the Albany Firefighters Union.

“Fighting fires is a dangerous and deadly business, and when people who do it don’t feel they are getting what they need, it has a very large impact on morale,” he said.

The truck is currently housed at Station No. 10 off Western Avenue.

Abriel will submit the department’s budget in October. He said there may be some funds in the budget that they can use toward reinforcing the floor, but that could take away from other department projects.

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