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NEW, MOBILE FIRE COMMAND CENTER DEBUTS $210,000 RESCUE VEHICLE COULD SERVE AS HEADQUARTERS IN EMERGENCY

The Buffalo Fire Department has a new command center -- a modern, $210,000 headquarters on wheels that will make fighting fires and handling chemical spills and rescue efforts much easier, officials said.

In a ceremony Wednesday at Fire Headquarters on Court Street, Mayor Griffin, retiring Fire Commissioner Albert G. Duke and other city officials dedicated the rescue vehicle, which will go into service in two or three weeks at Rescue Company 1 at Broadway and Monroe Street.

Another vehicle, also built to Fire Department specifications, will begin service next year at Rescue Company 2 on Rhode Island and Chenango streets. Officials say that vehicle also will cost more than $200,000.

The vehicles will replace two rescue trucks, the most recent purchased in 1982.

"They're specialized to resolve any emergency situation," Duke said. "It just increases our capabilities to address any emergencies that happen in the city."

The roomy command vehicle -- 33 feet long and weighing 38,000 pounds fully loaded -- includes a fax machine, which can receive valuable information about chemicals during a spill, as well as cellular phones and other communications equipment, Duke said.

The vehicle also has a generator that can produce 25,000 watts of power, enough to light up a hospital in an emergency, as well as five 1,500-watt floodlights, officials said.

"It can really light up one of those emergency areas, a fire or an accident," said Tony Gregorio, superintendent of fire apparatus. "In a major fire, it would be set up as a command post, and there would be different maps and charts . . . showing where water mains are and how large they are."

Other features include "maxi-force" air bags, which can be placed under an overturned truck to help right it. The bags can lift as much as 117 tons.

Another gadget can cut through steel, concrete and bricks.

"It does the same thing as a torch but does it more effectively . . . and much quicker," Duke said.

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