MECHANICSBURG – For the past 18 months, Mechanicsburg Fire & EMS has battled maintenance issue after maintenance issue with its two ambulances manufactured in the 1990s. On May 27, one of the village’s solutions to the department’s aging fleet – a 2017 International Harvester squad – was officially put into service.
Village Council in December 2015 approved the purchase of the new emergency vehicle, which features an International 4300 chassis made in Springfield and a 170-inch patient module (box) installed by the Florida-based company McCoy Miller, at a cost of $212,714.
Assistant Fire Chief/EMS Chief Steve Castle said the purchase was made possible through a $143,524 grant awarded to Mechanicsburg Fire & EMS in 2015 through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program.
The remaining $69,190, Fiscal Officer Dan Eck said, will be financed through a five-year loan, and the payments will be made using funds generated through the 5-year, 2.5-mill levy that voters passed in November 2015 for the replacement of fire and EMS vehicles.
Fire Chief Bob Keene said besides the increased reliability and efficiency that comes with a newer squad, the 2017 International has a bigger chassis and box than previous village-owned squads.
“It provides us with more room in the back for our medics, and it should be a smoother ride for our patients,” he added.
Along with the new International, the village’s current fleet also consists of a 2007 Freightliner purchased last month for $16,000 from the Madison County Emergency Medical District.
An EMS grant from the state totaling $6,000 was used to help purchase the used squad, Castle said.
Despite having owned the yellow-colored Freightliner for less than a month, the department is familiar with the squad having borrowed it from Madison County off and on over the past year.
Within the next few weeks, the squad will be wrapped to match the new International squad, Keene said.
Reasons for fleet overhaul
Mechanicsburg Fire & EMS entered 2016 with two village-owned squads – a 1995 International and a 1999 Ford. At points throughout 2015, however, the department had to rely on loaner squads from the Urbana Fire Division and Madison County Emergency Medical District in order to provide EMS services to its taxpayers.
“We are fortunate to have a good working relationship with our neighboring departments,” Castle said.
The issues with the village’s aging squads began in January 2015 when the Ford squad was forced out of commission with engine and wiring issues. Instead of paying the mounting repair costs to get the squad back into service, it was sold in January to Elite Ambulance Service, Cincinnati, for $4,149.
Keene said the money received from the Ford was used to help purchase the Freightliner.
As for the village’s 1995 International squad, when it wasn’t undergoing the necessary repairs to keep a 20-year-old emergency vehicle on the road, it was being used as the department’s first squad out until January 2015 to February 2016 when it took a back seat to the Freightliner on loan from Madison County.
With the 2017 International now in service, the village will be selling the 1995 International per the stipulations outlined in the federal grant the village used to help pay for the new squad.
Pending council’s approval, the old International will be sold on GovDeals.com as a non-emergency vehicle as outlined in the grant language, Keene said.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.