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The city Fire Department's effort to upgrade its equipment moved a step closer to fruition Monday with City Council approval of purchasing a new pumper engine.

Lawmakers OK'd borrowing $406,000 for the new vehicle, which Fire Chief Samuel Arcadipane said is more versatile than the truck it's replacing.

"We're going to have the 55-foot tower/ladder water-way system unit. So, now if a fire does progress out of our control, with the immediate abilities for interior attack . . . we have the ability to right away to switch from an offensive to a defensive mode and put a heck of a lot of water on that fire right away, also with foam capabilities," he said Tuesday.

The pumper will be purchased from Pierce Manufacturing of Appleton, Wis., and he expects it to be delivered next summer. Arcadipane said it will replace a 10-year-old model at Station 3. In turn, that will replace another, 30 year-old model in the truck fleet.

Arcadipane expressed his appreciation to Mayor Richard A. Kimball and Council members for backing the department's efforts to also upgrade its front-line capabilities, and radio equipment.

In other action Monday, the Council:

Approved a measure prohibiting sex offenders from obtaining a taxi license.

That drew praise from the co-founder of the city-based organization Help Put Sex Offenders Behind Bars. Cecil Rhodes thanked lawmakers for being "pro-active" on the issue as opposed to some other communities.

Rhodes also said his group would like to see wider licensing ordinances across the county. According to Council President Michael Mistretta, an ordinance change is now needed stating the police chief can refuse a license to anyone who has ever been convicted of a sex offense.

Up to now, the city code has blocked granting licenses to anyone convicted of a felony for up to 10 years preceding their application, and five years for those convicted of certain vehicle and traffic violations.

Approved four law enforcement grants totaling $190,000. Police Chief William MacLaughlin explained the largest one -- $116,000 -- will go towards the department's school-based partnership.

That grant, said MacLaughlin, will be used to study problems on the grounds of Jamestown High School. It's provided by the U.S. Justice Department.

Approved receiving a $50,000 grant from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services for the STOP Violence Against Women program.

MacLaughlin added the joint effort by the department and the YWCA will benefit the city's Project Crossroads program.

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