Poughkeepsie ... Over the last several years, the importance of emergency preparedness and having the right tools has been evidenced more clearly than ever. To ensure Dutchess County continues to effectively and efficiently respond to emergency events, County Executive Marc Molinaro has forwarded a resolution to the County Legislature for the purchase of three vehicles critical to the Department of Emergency Response’s (DER) mission of preparing and responding to emergencies in the community, including a new state-of-the-art Mobile Communication Command Post vehicle.
County Executive Molinaro said, “Dutchess County remains committed to supporting the dedicated staff at our Department of Emergency Response, as well as Dutchess County’s first responders, all of whom work daily to keep our residents as safe as possible. Investing in these vehicles allows the County to better respond to emergencies with a larger, fully outfitted command center; continue to provide valuable fire investigation services to local fire departments; and realize long-term cost savings, compared to costly leases. I thank the members of the Legislature for their shared pledge to keep Dutchess County and its residents safe, and I look forward to legislators’ consideration and approval of this important investment.”
The new Mobile Communication Command Post will be a 45-foot vehicle equipped with state-of-the-art apparatuses to more effectively serve the community and will replace the current, 30-foot-long command post vehicle that has been deployed throughout the County for large-scale community events, including large events such as marathons, mass distribution of COVID-19 test kits and numerous local Community Day events, in addition to countless emergencies throughout its 17 years of service. The Mobile Communication Command Post serves as a shared resource for all emergency services in Dutchess County, including local municipal officials, law enforcement and emergency responders. Any agency can request DER to operate the Command Post at an emergency scene or pre-planned event as a central hub for incident command. The equipment in the current vehicle, however, has become outdated and no longer sufficiently meets various communication needs, due to limited internet, radio and network capability. Additionally, the size of the current vehicle is very restrictive, creating inefficiency for incident leaders.
Featuring a bus chassis, the new Command Post will have double the amount of usable workspace of the current vehicle, with “slide outs” to increase space as needed, allowing both command and communications teams to operate simultaneously. The vehicle will be equipped with IP based radio and computer equipment that is easy to replace as technology changes. It will feature both satellite and advance bonded cellular networking and there will be connectivity to County and 9-1-1 computer networks allowing access to the 9-1-1 phone system and Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) software. Local emergency service agencies will be able to connect to their technology and networks as well. The vehicle is being purchased through New York State bid for $1.5 million, and is available for quick delivery from the manufacturer, despite recent supply chain issues.
DER will also purchase a new Fire Investigation Division (FID) vehicle, replacing its outmoded, 25-year-old predecessor. The FID assists local fire chiefs at the scene of incidents to determine the cause and origin of fires or explosions. The members of the FID are highly trained volunteers who are on-call 24 hours a day and, in 2021, the team investigated 54 incidents. The new vehicle will house equipment and tools necessary for investigations and will feature a separate interview room to assist investigation on-scene and will be purchased for $500,000.
FID Deputy Coordinator and Pawling Fire Department Member and Past Chief, Ron Gallagher said, “Investigating a fire incident is time sensitive and having the right tools and equipment on-scene is critical to ensuring our trained volunteers are able to do their jobs quickly and effectively. This vehicle will greatly enhance our ability to provide this vital service to our fire department partners.”
Additionally, DER will purchase a forklift vehicle as the department has become a hub for distribution of vital supplies across the county, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. DER has facilitated the acquisition, storage and distribution of various items, including hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 tests, personal protective equipment (PPE), COVID-19 vaccine supplies, and cleaning and disinfecting supplies. The County has been leasing a forklift, which has been instrumental in the safe movement, maintenance and distribution of this inventory. The purchase of a forklift for $100,000 will provide the County with cost-avoidance savings throughout its expected years of useful life.
Emergency Response Commissioner Dana Smith said, “As the size and scope of emergencies often escalate so, too, do the advances in technology used by responders to protect the community. Each of these vehicles will allow Dutchess County to better support our partners in law enforcement, fire and emergency services without sacrificing mobility or versatility. Dutchess County and our residents will continue to see years of benefits from these initial purchases, making them worthy investments in the safety of our community.”
The vehicle purchases are part of the County’s goal to have resources where they are needed. The County has also recently ordered a Mobile Community Health Clinic vehicle–which will be centered on serving outlying communities in northern and eastern Dutchess County, but available to every community. This mobile unit will expand the County’s health services and allow recovery coaches to offer more residents full-service physical and behavioral wellness services, including infectious disease services and testing; immunizations, such as COVID-19 vaccinations; and intake screenings, referrals and links to community partners. This customized vehicle has an extended delivery timeline due to ongoing supply chain issues.
The $2.1 million emergency response vehicles purchase will be funded through an appropriation from the County’s General Fund balance. The Dutchess County Legislature’s Public Safety Committee will review the resolution at this evening’s Legislative Committee meeting and the full Legislature will vote on the purchase approval at its Board meeting on Monday, February 14th.