Watertown fire chief: no heavy rescue truck, no way to power up life-saving tools

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 5:55 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A Watertown City Council candidate is speaking out over the city’s decision to get rid of the heavy rescue truck, saying it could have been used to help people trapped in last Thursday’s Arsenal Street crash.

We spoke with Fire Chief Matt Timerman about Patrick Hickey’s comments

Timerman says when the heavy rescue truck was taken off the road, with it went the necessary power source crews need to charge some of the tools that could have helped during that accident.

Last Thursday night, the Watertown Fire Department responded to a crash on Arsenal Street that sent 5 people to the hospital.

once on scene, crews had to use what’s known as the jaws of life, tools that help free someone who are trapped inside a vehicle.

But, Timerman says they didn’t have all the tools for the job at this scene.

“We had to rely on out mutual aid partners to bring us some of the tools that we didn’t have with us,” he said.

What they needed was a hydraulic ram that they got from the town of Watertown. The city has one, but didn’t have anything to power it.

It was powered by the heavy rescue truck, which was sold an at auction earlier this year.

It’s a situation that drew criticism from city council candidate Patrick Hickey, seeking a two-year term on council

He spoke about it on the radio show Hotline on WATN 1240.

“When the rescue truck got taken off the road, the city’s jaws were replaced with battery-powered devices, which don’t do the job as well as our original neumatic system was capable of,” said Hickey, who didn’t return our call for comment.

Battery-powered jaws of life are now stored on a separate truck to be used when needed.

Hickey said losing the heavy rescue truck is a problem, but he stopped short of advocating to bring on a new heavy rescue truck.

Hickey’s opponent, Amy Horton, tells 7 News that she shares Hickey’s concerns, but the purchase would be “an undue burden on city taxpayers.”

Timerman says the city is looking for new hydraulic tools that don’t need to be operated by a vehicle.

He says they’re hoping to purchase it within the next few weeks once city council approves the bid. But for the time being, they will still need to rely on other local fire departments until those tools can be brought in.

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