hwd_garages120After a storm that left 3,508 Town of Lansing and 626 Village of Lansing NYSEG customers in the dark last month,  Highway Superintendent Jack French told the Town Board that Lansing was not prepared for disasters, and was lucky that the absence of a disaster preparedness plan did not result in more property damage, or in injuries or death.  French said that a power outage at the Highway Department meant that gasoline for emergency vehicles including fire and EMT vehicles could not be pumped, electric doors could not be operated, Highway Department radios were ineffective for eight to ten hours.  Wednesday the Board approved the purchase of a generator and four hand-held emergency radios Wednesday.

"The generator will kick on automatically as soon as the electric service goes out," French says.  "The natural gas will kick the generator on automatically within ten seconds of the electric going out.  It allows us to keep pumping gas and to get our doors open."

The new radios will be capable of connecting to every emergency company in Tompkins County, as well as the State Department of Transportation, other Tompkins County highway departments including the Tompkins County Highway Department.  It is the same system the Lansing Fire Department has been converting to since it was initiated. Town Attorney noted that only one supplier provides radios for the county-wide emergency system, so bids would not be necessary before purchasing them.

"The new system came on board a couple of years ago," French said.  "Highway departments that have (the radios) tell me they really work well."


One year ago the County Legislature accepted a $2.8 million interoperable communications grant for the Department of Emergency Response to expand its system with inter-county, regional, and statewide emergency radio capabilities.

The Lansing Fire Department uses the gas pump at the Highway Department to fuel fire trucks and other emergency vehicles including EMT vehicles. Highway Department vehicles also respond to emergencies, clearing flooded culverts and ditches, and removing debris from roads.  During the blackout French was unable to reach his crew to coordinate emergency response or communicate with Fire Chief Scott Purcell.

The generator will cost about $12,000, and the radios will cost $6,931.  Board members estimated that installation of the generator might bring its cost as high as $20,000.  The board approved the equipment purchase, saying they want to get the emergency equipment installed as soon as possible.  They agreed to consider the installation cost after a bid has been received.