Committee to research purchase of new ambulance

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published January 23, 2013

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — The Harrison Township Fire Department is in need of a new ambulance.

Fire Chief Mike Lopez said the department’s back-up ambulance, used during times when the department is fully staffed or in the event of a breakdown of one of its two other ambulances, is now 16 years old and has traveled in excess of 100,000 miles around the township and through neighboring communities to a multitude of emergency situations.

“Another ambulance is 10 years old and has more than 90,000 miles,” he said. “Our fleet is aging. It’s time to begin looking at replacing one.”

Lopez and a few members of his department will now begin researching the purchase of a new ambulance, with the help of the Harrison Township Board of Trustees and a full-time city official.

During a Jan. 14 meeting, trustees David Bratto and John Swiatkowski volunteered to be on the research committee that will begin meeting immediately. A full-time township employee will be included in the committee before meetings commence.

Supervisor Ken Verkest said the committee will not be a voting body, rather one with the goal of exploring options and ultimately finding the best buy.

The fire department’s budget is currently more than $1 million and a new ambulance, Verkest said, averages around $150,000.

“We’ll see if it is a responsible time to purchase an ambulance,” he said.

But Lopez’s goal is to have a new ambulance in his fleet sometime this year for fear one of the older ones will be put out of commission for good, leaving his department in short supply.

He said the fire department has seen an increasing number of EMS calls in the last two years, and any one of its three ambulances has been called to assist cities like St. Clair Shores and even Roseville.

In 2011, the Harrison Township Fire Department responded to 1,709 EMS calls. In 2012, the number of emergency calls increased to 1,951.

“We are very busy,” he said after the township meeting.

Lopez said he tried to get funding assistance to purchase an ambulance through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program in 2012, but his request was rejected.

The fire chief said, once the new ambulance is purchased, the 16-year-old rig will be sold, and the next oldest ambulance will be moved to back-up status.