FDNY rep Paul Soehren discusses the proposed charging station with board members.
Idling EMS trucks have become an environmental problem for the Fire Department, so they’re proposing a solution.
At Wednesday night’s Community Board 5 meeting in Middle Village, representatives from the FDNY presented a new ambulance charger project that would allow the vehicles to turn off while still maintaining necessary functions.
Stephanie Williams, a facilities coordinator for the FDNY, said the charger would reduce ambulance idling, reducing pollution form emissions. The station would also reduce wear and tear on the vehicles.
“You go from tons and tons of pollutants to zero pollutants,” Williams said.
EMS trucks can’t turn off now because emergency workers need to maintain communication and data with other crews. More importantly, the vehicles must keep a steady temperature for the medicine they hold.
The charging station would power the response and computer systems while allowing drivers to turn off the motors.
“Everything is still maintained at the optimal level,” Williams said.
Fire officials want to place an ambulance charging station on Borden and Grand avenues in Maspeth. Williams said that will be the pilot station in Queens. Overall, the department wants to implement 40 stations throughout the five boroughs.
Williams added that the charging station is about five feet high, and would not be an eyesore to the community.
“It doesn’t take up that much space on the street,” she said.
Board chair Vincent Arcuri raised the issue that a charging station meant for ambulance use only would take away coveted parking spaces. He said he thinks it will take up about two spots, which businesses in the area use.
“This may not be the right pilot area,” Arcuri said.
Other board members said they liked the idea of the charging stations to reduce idling EMS trucks, but also voiced concerns about losing parking spaces.
Paul Soehren, a senior director of design for the FDNY, said the locations that they chose were based on existing areas that emergency trucks already occupy. He explained that ambulance vehicles usually wait at street corners until they are dispatched for medical emergencies.
Soehren said the Fire Department has worked with Con Edison and other agencies to decide which spots should receive the charging station.
“It’s been a process to get to this point,” he said.
One board member asked how the department would pay for the new charging stations. Williams replied the project is being funded by a state grant.
Captain Timothy Smith added that money will be saved from not having the vehicles idle while waiting to be dispatched. He said a major point is that the environmentally friendly project will cut fumes and noise in the community.
Arcuri proposed that the project be discussed and analyzed by the board’s Transportation Committee. He said the review will allow the community make a recommendation about whether the spot for the charging station would be the right fit.
Community Board 5 also reviewed the fiscal priorities for Fiscal Year 2017 at the meeting at Christ the King High School. Under capital projects, district manager Gary Giordano said improving sewer systems, adding school spaces and renovating existing M train stations were among the priorities for the community.
As for the expense budget, Giordano said police, fire and sanitation services were at the top. But he also listed a host of other issues, including programs for seniors and youth, improving traffic safety and parks maintenance.
Arcuri said Queens is being underfunded compared to the rest of the city.
“In almost every category, 99 percent of the categories, Queens is underfunded per capita,” he said. “This goes across the board.
“The thrust of the borough president’s response and the Borough Board’s response to the budget was we want our fair share in Queens and be treated just as other boroughs are,” he added.