Sleepy Hollow & “Old School”

In November 2015, the Sleepy Hollow Fire department received some bad news about their trusted twenty-one-year-old 95-foot Sutphen platform ladder truck.  It failed its annual stress test and major structural rust and rotting was discovered.  The total estimated cost to make the necessary repairs would be in excess of $90,000. The Village’s original plan was to order a new ladder in 2016 and take delivery by the end of 2017. The new $1.1 million ladder’s price would be softened by a $300,000 grant from the New York Bridge Authority through a community benefits program. A new ladder truck usually takes about one year to manufacture and deliver after an order is placed. 

The Chiefs of the Sleepy Hollow Fire Department notified the central dispatch of the situation and from that point on Sleepy Hollow was protected by the neighboring Villages’ Fire Departments through mutual aid, mainly the Tarrytown Fire Department.

As a retired New York City firefighter and current Village Trustee, my heart sank as I walked by the empty bay of ladder 38 on Beekman Avenue every Tuesday night on my way to our weekly Board of Trustee meetings at Village Hall. Although I knew that if we had a building fire or emergency the Tarrytown Fire Department would do their best to respond, I felt this was not a solid plan for the next 12 months. While we waited for a new ladder truck I sat down to discuss a plan of action with chief John Korzelius and Ex-Chief Billy Ryan, also a NYC firefighter.

We decided to approach this matter with a very simple tactic – purchase a used fire truck as a stopgap measure and put it in service as soon as possible to protect our Village residents. After some extensive research, we visited Milford Township in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and found a 1982 Mack rear mount aerial ladder, with 28,000 miles on it, for sale. It was in excellent shape and well maintained. Our Village mechanic, Robert O’Connell, liked what he saw and suggested the ladder needed some basic upgrades. Fortunately, the Mack drive train is very common and parts are easy to come by.

Left to right SHFD Captain Paul Capello, Trustee John Leavy, Milford Township Chief Keith Butler, Milford Township FM Jim Young, SHFD Chief John KorzeliusI presented our plan to the Mayor and the Board of Trustees and they fully supported the purchase. I also stressed that we might be required, by ISO standards, to have a second aerial ladder in the future when the Edge-on-Hudson project begins to be populated.

On February 3, 2016, we returned to Bucks County and took delivery of the new ladder 38 from chief Keith Butler for $21,000. We drove back in gale-force winds and a driving rain, but the old Mack was up to the task. We drove down Beekman Avenue, sirens wailing, and to our surprise were met by most of our volunteers ready to check out our new ladder.  In the pouring rain these members extended the outriggers and raised the ladder, they examined the empty compartments and sat behind the wheel imagining the next response this rig would make. I watched with great pride as our Village volunteers and police officers got together to welcome the newest member of the Sleepy Hollow Fire Department. With some new belts and hydraulic lines installed, the new Ladder 38 was put in service. After some minor upgrades and training, our new Ladder 38 is protecting the Village of Sleepy Hollow. Today, I sleep more soundly knowing we have Ladder 38 back in service. I want to thank Mayor Ken Wray, the Board of Trustees, the Village Administrator Anthony Giaccio, Ex-Chief Billy Ryan, Chief John Korzelius, and Village mechanic Robert  O’Connell for all their hard work and support in this accomplishment.

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