Blackwood Fire Company looks for residents’ approval of new vehicle

This month, residents will vote on the purchase of a new fire apparatus

While voters prepare for Democratic primaries and the 2020 presidential election later this year, South Jersey residents will vote in all-important state and municipal elections.

While national and global issues can often dominate conversations, particularly when people disagree, what happens in your county, township and with your local emergency services has a much larger impact on daily life.

For those reasons, Chief Joseph Cipriano of the Blackwood Fire Company hopes residents show support for his squad in an upcoming vote on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 2 to 9 p.m., at the company’s building, 14 West Central Ave., Blackwood.

According to a flyer posted on the company’s Facebook page, the Blackwood Fire Company seeks residents’ approval to purchase a new rescue engine that would replace two aging vehicles. Cipriano says the current vehicles, at 18, are older than the recommended service life.

“Right now, the Blackwood Fire Company operates four pieces of frontline fire apparatus,” the chief said. “What our game plan is is to reduce the number of apparatuses we have by combining two into one, ultimately selling a fire engine and a rescue truck, then being able to purchase this vehicle and have it serve as a rescue engine.”

Cipriano cites increased maintenance costs over the years for the four aging vehicles as one of many driving factors that led to the company’s requested ballot item. He added that with the new proposed rescue engine in place of the other two vehicles, maintenance costs will be dramatically reduced and the department’s versatility will increase.

Cipriano said he would not expect residents to see a tax increase from the fire company if voters approve the rescue engine.

“Residents will not see a significant increase due to the purchase of the fire apparatus specifically,” Cipriano explained. “There’s been money going towards an apparatus replacement fund for a number of years …

“This works out much better than residents having to foot the bill for an approximately $700,000 bond.”

If approved, Cipriano says the build time for the new rescue apparatus would be approximately 13 months.

Another project for which the company seeks approval is a joint purchase with the Chews Landing Fire Department for the engine 88 program, where the career staff of the two fire departments helps man a 24-hour fire engine.

Also on the ballot for the Chews Landing Fire Department is approval for a new fire engine, as the group, according to Cipriano, responds to 1,200 calls per year. According to the chief, the bill would be split 50/50 between the two fire companies, with an estimated cost of approximately $700,000.