LOCKPORT — The Lockport Fire Department's latest piece of equipment is coming from an unlikely source: the student transportation provider Ridge Road Express.
Ridge Road is donating a 2009 Ford E-450 bus, with seating for 15, to the fire department to use for transporting on-call firefighters to emergency scenes and giving firefighters respite from inclement weather. The bus could eventually carry equipment to allow the LFD to refill oxygen tanks on-scene, but the city would need to purchase the equipment first, according to Fire Chief Patrick Brady.
When a structure fire call comes in, off-duty firefighters respond to LFD to put on their equipment and then take "whatever vehicle is available" to get transported to the scene, Brady said.
The school bus will help LFD transport firefighters to emergency scenes, and will offer space where they can take refuge from outside temperatures, particularly cold and heat. Firefighters currently have only the much smaller fire engine cabs to escape the elements.
“This is a much better environment for us to use," Brady said.
The council approved a memorandum of agreement with LFD's union, the Lockport Professional Fire Fighters Association, on Sept. 4. Before it can enter service, LFD will have to draft standard operating procedures and train with and paint the former school bus, Brady said.
LFD previously used its spare ambulance for firefighter transport and shelter from the elements. The city eliminated LFD ambulance service in 2014 amid its fiscal crisis.
Ridge Road Express General Manager Gary Woodcock described the bus as "still road-worthy," but said it was no longer in use.
“They had a need and we were able to fulfill it," Woodcock said.
“The fire department is a great group of guys and whatever we can do to help em out, we’ll do," he added.