Cayuga County Emergency Services asks for new fire training, storage building

Cayuga County Emergency Services asks for new fire training, storage building

AUBURN — After giving a tour at the Cayuga County Fire Training Tower Wednesday night, Niel Rivenburgh, acting director of the county emergency services, asked county legislators to finance a new building.

The complex on Quarry Road in Auburn has a fire training tower, a large lot storing multiple emergency response trailers, a barn and one indoor facility where classes are held. The trailers are stored outdoors, and Rivenburgh said he spent hours with the help of the county’s buildings and groups staff trying to dig some of them out.

The trailers hold all kinds of equipment for different crises including hazardous waste spills, high-angle rescues and water rescues. There’s about $1.6 million worth of equipment on site, Rivenburgh said, and not all of it is stored properly at the Quarry Road location.

“Our capabilities are delayed and/or eliminated by the weather that we have to deal with,” he said at a Judicial and Public Safety Committee meeting. “I’ve got three trailers that I cannot move, three resources that could be needed. They’re low probability incidents, but when they’re needed, it’s critical.”

Rivenburgh is proposing a 6,000 square-foot facility with six bays that would allow equipment to easily be moved in and out of the building. He suggested moving a nearby hay barn, which is on the county’s land, and erecting the building there.

He’s working with some vendors, he told legislators, to come up with cost estimates. Tentatively the range for a new building is about $220,000 for a basic storage structure to $320,000 for one that is heated, electrically wired and insulated.

Legislature Chairman Patrick Mahunik asked Rivenburgh how the facility has been upgraded in the past. Rivenburgh said most of the work has been done in-kind by volunteer firefighters, the city of Auburn, the Cayuga County Highway Department and his own staff. Some equipment has been donated, but most has been paid for through grant funding.

The complex is used by all the county’s volunteer fire companies, the Auburn Fire Department and local and state law enforcement. Occasionally, too, it is rented out. Rivenburgh said Nucor Steel uses the facility sometimes for its high-angle rescue training.

He hoped by having the meeting at the training tower, legislators would see and understand the need for a new building, he said.

“There’s no way to beat around it,” he said. “We build these capabilities so we can help the little guys get through the big incidents. That’s what we do. We support them, and they support us, and we have a good thing going. But I need to protect this equipment. If something bad happens and I can’t rely on our resources, we fail to do our due diligence.”

Though there was no resolution on the table for a new building, Rivenburgh told legislators he hoped to have more concrete cost estimates to the full Legislature at the end of the month.

In other news:

• The Government Operations Committee tabled a resolution hiring a law firm to appeal a decision, order and judgement requiring the county to pay $300,000 to a former jail inmate. 

The matter involved Richard T. Andrews, who suffered seizures and multiple fractures after jail staff failed to give him his prescription medication, according to the Nov. 1 judgement. A resolution to hire the Frank W. Miller Law Firm to appeal the decision was the topic of an executive session Wednesday night. Legislators chose to table it, with no further discussion.

Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or gwendolyn.craig@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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