NYPD: High Water, No Problem
“We’ve never had anything like this,” Deputy Inspector Scott Olexa said. Olexa was the commander of the 100th Precinct before, during and after Hurricane Sandy, and now serves in the police department’s Fleet Services division.
This past week, he gave The Wave an exclusive first look at the brand-new vehicles his division is rolling out. One of the first is headed to the 100th Precinct.
Completely developed and designed by the NYPD, it is built to handle emergencies exactly like Hurricane Sandy.
Olexa and his team have been working to bring the heavy duty truck with unique features from the drawing board to the field; or in this case, the beach.
“Since March, we have been looking at it, building it, improving it,” he noted. “We were thinking, what can we use in situations like this? A pickup truck wouldn’t do it.”
What they came up with is a four wheel drive, Ford built vehicle with heavy duty suspension, wide tires and very high clearance to make sure it keeps going through high waters which might engulf other vehicles. It was designed, as Olexa said, so that the “clearance is well above where water could affect any of the mechanical systems.”
The inside cabin of the larger version can safely carry up to six officers; the smaller one can carry three.
According to Olexa, “the Police Commissioner himself (Raymond Kelly) was very instrumental in pushing for the crew cabin design.”
In addition, the rear section can be easily adapted to transport an injured person or hold additional personnel. One of the key features of this flexible, eightfoot rear truck bed is its ability to carry a sizeable rescue boat.
“We’ve changed the way we look at things after the storm,” Olexa noted.
Beyond having a vehicle sturdy enough to stand up to high water and uncertain terrain, he commented, “We needed something that would (also) hold a boat, a zodiac boat.” He was referring to the light weight, inflatable, powered rubberized craft which are often used in water rescues and, when necessary, can easily navigate storm flooded streets.
In the event of an emergency, the boat can be quickly inflated at the precinct, where it will be stored, and mounted onto the truck. Other features include penetrating flood lights, programmable emergency message displays and coverings to keep rain water from pooling and surfaces designed so that they do not become slippery and unsafe.
“This is going to give us capabilities we never had before,” Olexa said, citing beach rescues and other scenarios when the new vehicle could easily make its way into areas where other vehicles could not go.
Seven stations will get one, starting with the 100th Precinct in Rockaway Beach. At the NYPD Fleet Service facility in Woodside, it was already prepped and waiting in their rooftop parking area. The precinct decals had just been freshly added.
Olexa noted that in time, Far Rockaway’s 101st Precinct will also be getting one.
Between purchase and modifications, each vehicle costs $60,000.
As Olexa said, “Whenever we find a need, we do our best to find a vehicle to fit that need.”
It this case, they designed from the ground up.