Officials say purchase of generators ease minds

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, January 6, 2009

If Brookhaven ever sees another situation like HurricaneKatrina, residents can rest assured that the city is stillprotected from crime and fire.

Before the city’s recent acquisition of three 35 kilowattgenerators, one for each fire department, and a 60 kilowattgenerator which will go in the new police department, at least twoof the fire departments would be powerless and the other one andpolice department would both have partial power in case of a poweroutage.

“The situation is that now all three fire departments and thepolice department will have radios that work if we have a poweroutage and will be able to function at full capacity,” said PublicWorks Director Steve Moreton. “We’ve had a situation before wherethe fire department had no generators so they were working 24/7with no power.”

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Mayor Bob Massengill said the generators were purchased withgrant funds that city officials worked with Civil Defense DirectorClifford Galey to get. He said the city had added a new generatorlast year for the water department that was donated in part by ParkCity, Ill.

“Obviously we hope we don’t go for any extended period withoutpower again,” Massengill said. “But the people of Brookhaven won’thave to worry about the police department, the fire department orthe water department, because they will be able to continue tofunction.”

Moreton said the reason the police department generator islarger than the ones for the fire stations is because the facilitywill be bigger and use more energy. The generators will run offnatural gas, which officials said is a plus over the kind ofgenerator that has to have gasoline.

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said the new generatorwould be a blessing, as the one the department had during Katrinaallowed the facility some functionality, but not a lot. He alsopointed out that it’s not just in times of extended power loss thatit is imperative for emergency services to be functional.

“In law enforcement you can’t make it without your lights, yourtelephone and your radio system,” he said. “Around here sometimeswe lose power with wind and lightning and things.”

Fire Chief Bob Watts said the biggest thing for his guys asidefrom keeping the base stations afloat so the radios continue towork is the compressor at Central Station that refills thefirefighters’ breathing apparatuses.

“It’s really going to help at central where we have thatcompressor, because you definitely need something to fill up yourair bottles,” he said. “The greatest benefit of these is having thepower to continue to run that compressor.”

In addition to that, Watts said, his men live at the stationsaround the clock, so it’s just more convenient and comfortable forthem when there’s power to charge cell phones and cook.

“It’s just like being without power at home,” he said. “It’spretty inconvenient.”

Moreton said there was a time when the generator feeding thepolice department failed, which is part of the reason it will be apositive to have one for the new facility when the department movesto the old Highway Patrol Building on Highway 51. Henderson saidknowing that he won’t be left in the dark again is a relief.

“I can be comfortable knowing we’ll have this backup,” he said,adding that while the generator was out, it made him nervous evenwhen the electricity wasn’t out. “It makes my day a lot betterknowing we won’t lose power.”

Moreton said the fire department generators have come in, butthe one for the police department is not physically in Brookhavenyet. He said it will hopefully be in by March.