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Dunkirk committee OKs purchase of live burn simulator

DUNKIRK – A new live burn simulator for the Dunkirk Fire Training Center was approved by the Common Council’s Finance Committee on Monday. 

The training equipment will allow the city to train new and current firefighters in live burn situations. “We have not been able to have live burn situations in the city for 15 years,” said Fire Chief Keith Ahlstrom. 

He said city firefighters have had to be sent to Jamestown for the training programs since Dunkirk did not have appropriate equipment. He said he anticipates the only costs to the city will be insurance liability coverage.

The simulator will be paid for with a $400,000 grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The grant required a 10 percent local match, which Ahlstrom said Chautauqua County already has agreed to pay. He said that in addition, the county agreed to purchase a five-year maintenance agreement for the unit. 

The chief said the new simulator will be used by both paid and volunteer firefighters for their training. 

The chief said approval by the Council is required so the fire department can seek bids for the new equipment.

The resolution will be presented at the Council’s March 3 meeting.

In other business, Code Enforcement Officer Al Zurawski presented a list of recommended increases for fees for permits and applications in his office. There have been no changes to the fee schedule in about 25 years, he said.

Zurawski is recommending changing building permit fees to a sliding scale depending on size, with prices ranging from $125 to $225. The current fee is $10. He also recommended raising the fee for renovations from $10 to $50 for projects under $20,000 and to $75 for costs over $20,000.

The new proposal also includes a fee of $25 for re-roofing a residential home. Currently there is no charge for a permit to replace a roof. 

The code enforcement officer said he would like a fee of 25 cents for each square foot of new commercial construction. The current fee is $50.

The current charge to apply for an appeal with the Zoning Board of Appeals is only $5. Zurawski recommended that $150 be charged.

There currently are no charges for a site plan review that requires approval from the Planning Board. Zurawski said there should be a fee of $100 for buildings and $25 for signs. 

City Attorney Ron Szot said the changes would require a public hearing before the Council.  

Finance Committee Chairman Michael Michalski asked committee members to look at the information carefully and be prepared to take action at the next committee meeting.

Councilman William Rivera said he would like to see the new schedule approved before the summer construction season. 

Michalski said the Finance Committee also should consider other fees, including charges for placing garbage at the curb too early or for leaving items not appropriate for municipal pickups.

Meanwhile, the Council’s Personnel Committee on Monday considered plans to ask employees to cross-train for other positions.