The new mobile command truck for the county Office of Emergency Services is a sight to see. A lot of that probably has to do with its sheer size.
At 13 feet tall and 38 feet long, the mobile command center is a massive symbol of safety in the county. Although not officially in service for another month, the truck has been seen zipping around Chautauqua County.
Fire officials are smiling ear to ear over this truck, and rightfully so. For years county officials had been looking for a streamlined system to connect fire, police and state officials in one location. The truck now links all agencies through several satellites and cellphones.
Costs of such a system without federal assistance would have drained taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Due to some hard-working men and women at the county emergency services office, several Homeland Security grants were secured. And $400,000 later - none of which from the pockets of taxpayers - the county has itself a functioning command truck.
Fire and police officials said the vehicle would have came in handy for the Silver Creek floods. The same for the Dunkirk fire in 2010 and the search for Ralph Phillips in 2006, among other incidents.
Now fire and police can have direct communication to one another in seamless connection.
"We want to keep everyone on the same page," said Julius Leone, county fire coordinator. "When we're on site, you want to have the ability to communicate with everyone, and we just didn't have that before."
Sheriff Joe Gerace said the truck will provide better efficiencies for the county and may even end up saving a life.
The truck recently made its unofficial debut at an accident in the town of Kiantone. A diesel tanker truck overturned, spilling some fuel from its cab.
Seeing a great opportunity to test its capabilities, the command truck roared into action. Fire police coordinated traffic away from the accident as firefighters contained the spill. Fire officials were happy with the truck's test run.
With emergencies ranging from fires, floods and manhunts always posing a risk, it's good to know the county has equipped itself with better tools. We commend fire and police officials for the purchase. Taxpayers should agree.