Township officials hope that a federal grant will alleviate the cost of the equipment needed to sustain emergency services during a disaster like Superstorm Sandy.
Though Sandy did not batter Manchester as badly battered as some shore communities, many municipal buildings were without power following the storm. The Township Council this week approved a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant application that would pay for 75 percent of the about $330,000 needed to equip township buildings with emergency generators.
"These are all things we learned after being down for a considerable amount of time without power," Klimakowski said.
For example, fuel pumps need power so they can continue to supply emergency vehicles with gas; first aid squads need to ensure equipment like defibrillators are charged; and diesel fire truck engines must be kept warm to ensure they start properly, Klimakowski said.
The township wants to put emergency natural gas generators in critical buildings, including the municipal complex, first aid and fire department headquarters.
"We consider these key parts of our infrastructure that we need to keep up and running," Klimakowski said. "After all that and the different problems that we had, we said 'we have to put power in these facilities.'"
Beyond helping to keep the emergency services prepared, generator power would also enable some buildings — for example, the Manchester Volunteer Fire Company headquarters — to be utilized as a warming station, the chief said.
"It's certainly something that we need. Sandy taught us a lot," Klimakowski said.
Even if the grant, prepared by Manchester's Emergency Management Coordinator Art Abline, is denied by the federal agency, Klimakowski said he plans to include the upgrades in his capital budget request.
"I would like to see it either way," Klimakowski said. "It would be better if the federal government stepped in to help pay."
The work and equipment must now go out to bid, according to Council President Craig Wallis.
The police department is also in the process of changing its mass community notification service from Global Connect to Nixle. The new service promises a savings of about $5,000 while giving police more flexibility in how it communicates with residents — including through email and text messages — in emergency situations, Klimakowski said.