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Politics and Government

Syracuse officials describe ‘crisis,’ critical shortage of snow plows, firetrucks

Sutphen Corporation
An example of one of the types of firetrucks, the SP95 Aerial Tower, the Syracuse Fire Department wants to purchase.

Syracuse officials described a crisis and critical shortage of snow plows and firetrucks at a common council meeting on Wednesday. New vehicles could cost the city millions of dollars. 

Syracuse Fire Chief Michael Monds said the department is at a crossroads. He said they’ve been underfunded by close to $11 million over the past two decades and eight firetrucks have been condemned in the past 4-5 years due to corrosion and other maintenance problems.

“We are constantly in a predicament where we don’t have any spares," Monds said. "When an engine goes down due to maintenance, there are neighborhoods that aren’t being protected. That's happened several times in the last few weeks.”

The fire department wants four new firetrucks at a cost of $3.75 million.

Meanwhile, the department of public works is in a similar situation. They’re asking for 10 new snow plows, costing more than $2 million. Half of that would be covered by New York State. Corey Driscoll Dunham, chief operating officer, said the condition of the fleet is at a crisis point.

“There are times where we will start a storm with 20, and end up in the single digits,” Driscoll Dunham said. 

Eleven of the city's snow plows are more than 10 years old. 

"Older vehicles tend to break down more and then we don't have as many blades on the road as we need to remove snow as quickly as we want to," Driscoll Dunham said. "A vehicle reaches a point, like your personal vehicle, you're putting more money into it than it's really worth."

The Thruway Authority is loaning the city two plows, and the federal government is also giving a plow that it no longer needs. The Syracuse council could vote on the new purchases on Monday.