HOLYOKE – The Holyoke Fire Department put on display the fruits of Mayor Alex Morse’s first municipal bond proposal as mayor – three new engines.
“This is very exciting news not just for the Fire Department, but for the entire city of Holyoke,” Morse said.
Morse explained during a brief ceremony at Fire Headquarters on High Street that three years ago the decision was made to utilize the city’s strong bond rating in order to fill the department’s need for $1.5 million in new apparatus all at once instead of in several stages.
“It was a few years ago that Chief [John] Pond and [Fire] Commissioner [Christopher] Hopewell came to my office with the needs of the Fire Department – obviously the aging infrastructure of the department and the need for the city to invest again in the trucks here, given the last time the city had done so was a decade or two ago,” he said. “To make this investment, we thought about doing one now, one a couple years after that [and] one a couple years after that, but we thought the best thing to do was for my office to propose a $1.5 million bond to cover the cost of the three engines.”
The three engines, furnished by Kovatch Mobile Equipment Corp. of Nesquehoning, PA, are pumper engines whose primary purpose is supplying water and fire suppression with the support of the ladder companies, according to Capt. Anthony Cerutti.
Engines 1 and 2 will be stationed at headquarters, while Engine 3 will serve the city’s Highlands neighborhood from the Northampton Street station.
“All three of these are identical. There’s nothing different about any of these except the numbers on the front and where they respond to,” Cerutti said.
When asked what the new engines offer the department in terms of capabilities, Cerutti responded, “The most important thing is now they’re reliable. We had our fire engines before that were put in service in the early 90s and they’ve seen a lot of fire and a lot of calls, so they just get mechanical issues, rust starts showing up, the pumps that pump the water have leaks.
“Unfortunately, we were down to an engine that Springfield [Fire Department] let us borrow,” he added.
Pond pointed out Deputy Chief Thomas Shea was instrumental in the outfitting of the engines.
“For those of you who don’t know, he actually designed all these apparatus,” Pond said. “It’s his design; we went through to make sure everything was safe and put in the appropriate place.”
The department also received $25,000 from the city that was utilized to purchase two rescue boats – Marine 1, for use in the Connecticut River. The department’s previous water rescue unit was damaged during an operation in the river in 2014. A smaller unit for operations in the city’s canals was also purchased.
“Unfortunately, quite often there are issues in the canals,” Cerutti said
Pond also lauded Vega for his efforts to secure an additional $20,000 for 10 new sets of turn out gear.
“Growing up in Holyoke in the 70s, firefighters were definitely my heroes,” Vega said, recalling the time period when the city was dubbed the “arson capital” of Massachusetts.
“I’m glad to see we’re prepared for the worst,” he continued. “Hopefully the worst doesn’t happen, but we’re prepared for the worse and the men and women on the team and on the force here are ready to face whatever challenges come.”