The Fair Lawn Volunteer Fire Department -- whose four fire houses currently lack a backup power source -- is planning to request that council allocate money for the purchase of emergency generators for each house in next year's town budget.
Fire Chief Chris Hoitsma said the plan is still in its early stages, but that emergency generators would allow each fire house to not only operate during power outages, but also serve as a hub for firefighters, their families and even a small number of residents who have lost power and are looking for information.
The price tag, Hoitsma said, would run about $10,000 to $20,000 per generator, or between $40,000 and $80,000 total, depending on what generator specifications are desired.
Hoitsma said over the years that every fire house has lost power here and there, but that all had been able to manage. That almost wasn't the case earlier this year. Fire Company No. 4 lost power for a couple days and actually had trouble getting its apparatus started when a call came in.
"We've all had our issues, but its just the way things are," Hoitsma said of managing without a backup power source. He said the issue of purchasing generators had come up in years past, but with money tight it never came to fruition.
If firefighters are out responding to calls while the power is out, there's no problem, Hoitsma said.
The problems begin, he said, when companies lose power but fail to receive a fire call for a couple days -- just enough time for flashlight and portable radio batteries to lose their charges. Another inconvenience when power is out, Hoitsma said, is that someone must climb up about 10 feet to release the emergency bar if they want to open the fire house's bay doors and get the truck out.
Deputy Mayor Steve Weinstein, who attended last month's Fire Board meeting where the issue was initially discussed, brought it before council at the Nov. 29 work session.
"Seriously, it's an issue that should be discussed, I think, in the next budget session," he said. "We've had storms now that we've never had before. I think there are issues and resolutions that we really need to address."