OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego Fire Chief is requesting to update the department’s aging ambulance fleet. Earlier this month, Chief Jeff McCrobie approached the Common Council with a plan to acquire two lease-to-purchase 2012, 2013 or 2014 ambulances.
The councilors took no action on the request then, opting instead to take a closer look at the details.
At this week’s committee meeting, councilors noted that one new ambulance would be more feasible at this time.
McCrobie said he understands the request is pending the city’s review of his department, but added it is his intention to move the proposal forward “to have things ready for whenever the decision is made on the situation with the ambulances.”
The department’s oldest amublance is up for inspection at the end of the month and McCrobie said there isn’t a lot of confidence in that it will pass.
“That would put us down to two rigs,” he said.
If approved, the new ambulance could be on the road in about five weeks.
“It’s not going to be anything that is specs specific. These are going to be ‘off the shelf’ so to speak. That’s why I said 2012, ’13 or ’14. They’re all brand new; they just didn’t sell for whatever reason,” he explained.
They would make some adjustments when it arrived, such as “putting in our (county) radio,” he said, adding that about two weeks of in-house stuff might be needed to get it ready for use in Oswego.
One of the ambulances has more than 111,000 miles on it, another has 143 (thousand) plus and a third has 158 (thousand) plus, McCrobie said.
The one with the most miles will be decommissioned, he added.
DPW Commissioner Mike Smith’s department has done a lot of maintenance on the ambulance fleet.
He said he doesn’t see much hope for the oldest rig.
“It’s in desperate need of being replaced,” he told the councilors.
Third Ward Councilor Mike Todd pointed out the ambulance in question has spent considerable down time at the DPW being fixed in recent months.
It probably has more miles on it than an emergency vehicle should have, he added.
“(Emergency vehicles) are driven differently than normal cars,” he said. “There is a lot more wear and tear on them.
“The bottom line here is to maintain a safe and responsible system. We still have an obligation to provide a first-rate ambulance service,” Council President Ron Kaplewicz said. “The thing you don’t want to find in a situation where everybody’s driving around in a vehicle with 100,000 miles on it trying to get to the scene of a fire or an accident and have a breakdown.”
A newer vehicle wouldn’t need as much maintenance, and would free up the DPW workers, Todd said.
“Get a vehicle with a manufacturer’s warranty, and if something goes wrong, they fix it. You’re never going to get away from the cost of emergency vehicles,” he added. “Police vehicles, fire vehicles and plow trucks, those are going to be cost you’re going to have every single year. There is no way to get away from those three. These vehicles are driven hard and they’re driven fast; they’re not driven the same way as a regular car.”
“It just doesn’t make sense, economically, any more to put money into the old ambulance,” Kaplewicz agreed.