When a major western Morris County town needed a partner for an emergency preparedness project, it reached out to the teachers and students at the Morris County School of Technology who answered the call.
Students from auto body shop classes at MCTS fully restored an old trailer, which is now ready for action in Washington Township to haul supplies to emergency shelters in case of natural or man-made disasters.
“The Washington Township OEM contacted the school and asked if we could help,” said Auto Body Curriculum Instructor Louis Rosso. “They brought the trailer down to our school and the students went to work.’
“The teachers and students at the Morris County School of Technology should be applauded for their efforts,” said Freeholder Hank Lyon, the county governing board’s liaison to MCTS. “It’s another example of the great value of our county school for students from across the Morris County who attend it.”
Washington Township is a sprawling municipality of 45 square miles. During major emergencies, such as Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Irene-type events that struck a few years ago, the township could be required to open multiple shelters to handle the needs of its more than 20,000 residents.
After reviewing emergency response procedures, the Washington Township’s Office of Emergency Management found that multiple shelters could be opened quicker and could deal more efficiently with the needs of stranded residents if all critical shelter supplies could be promptly transported from site to site using a tow-behind trailer.
Unfortunately, a tight municipal budget precluded an outright purchase of a new trailer, so the issue required a creative approach. The Washington Township Police offered an unused trailer that years ago had been for student DARE program training. Although serviceable, the exterior of the trailer was in bad shape and could not accommodate the required identifying township insignia.
Washington Township approached MCST to see if students in the Denville-based county school’s auto shop could help with the project. For auto body instructor Louis Rosso, it was a fitting challenge for his students.
The morning and evening auto body classes, including about 20 students, at MCST worked on the dilapidated trailer, sanding it, stripping old paint, getting off some heavy rust to bring it down to bare metal. Then then reversed the formula, added a two-part epoxy to the bare metal, preparing the surface and then coating it with a two-part epoxy paint to make it weather resistant and durable.
“It was a classic ‘win-win’ situation,” said Rosso. “Our students would get a technical challenge that could further their training and a community in need would get a workable solution to its problem.”
The project was a complete success, garnering a very positive reaction from those who had seen the condition of the original trailer.
Washington Township thanked MCTS and its students and instructors with a Resolution of Appreciation. Township emergency responders Bruce Clark and Georges Chalemin called it a great example of partnership.
“Effective emergency response is all about working together, and you couldn’t ask for a better partner than the Morris County School of Technology,” said Clark.
For more information, call MCST at 973-627-4600 ext.277 or visit www.mcvts.org.