By Dedra Cordle
New emergency service vehicles have been ordered for the Jackson Township Fire Department but it may be a while before the equipment can be delivered.
At its meeting on March 28, the township board of trustees unanimously approved four separate resolutions to purchase a fire engine, a ladder truck, a maintenance truck, and two medics at a total cost of $4.21 million.
While acknowledging the expense of the new emergency service vehicles, members of the board said it was necessary to order the equipment all at the same time as the fire department needs to maintain its traditional replacement cycle.
“It is not common for us to approve so many purchases and at such a high price in one night,” said board chairman Ron McClure, “but the township is up against a lot because there is a nationwide slowdown in the manufacturing of emergency services vehicles and you have all these fire departments throughout the country looking to order the same equipment.
“We felt it was vital that we take the action we did tonight because it is so important that the fire department keeps it replacement cycle healthy and that they keep their equipment, especially the fire engines and the medics, up-to-date so they can continue to keep our community safe.”
Fire Chief Randy Little said the department usually requests new emergency service vehicles over a longer duration of time, but the introduction of the novel coronavirus caused an industry-wide backup as parts became harder to procure.
“Historically, it has taken 12 to 18 months from the time you order a fire engine until the time it is received and now that time has jumped to 42 months,” he said. “So now so we’re waiting nearly four years for a new fire engine to arrive.”
He added that the delay in the building of a new emergency service vehicle and the delivery time was also true for ambulances, which are much more in demand and in much more need to be cycled out than a fire engine or a ladder truck.
“Ambulances used to be built and delivered in 12 months or less and now it is up for 24 months before it can be received,” he said.
Little said he is not sure when, or even if, the industry can recover to the pre-pandemic times.
He said what he does know is that the action the board took at the March 28 meeting will keep the department on its traditional replacement cycle.
“It is a little ahead of our normal replacement cycle but it will be received on schedule so we can still have safe and excellent equipment to provide quality service to our growing community.”
The fire engine will be manufactured by Atlantic Emergency Solutions, based out of Reynoldsburg, at a cost of $938,478. It will be housed at Station 204 on Buckeye Parkway.
According to Deputy Fire Chief Shawn Quincel, the department should take delivery of the equipment and water carrying vehicle within 36-42 months. He explained that the length of time for delivery could have taken much longer had the department not been “fortunate” to find a model that was currently under construction.
“We were extremely lucky to have received the opportunity to buy this truck that was already partially built as a demo model because every department is in the same situation as us – needing new equipment and scrambling to find a supplier who can build one in time for your replacement cycle.
“That is why we feel so fortunate to have found this one because it can be delivered sooner rather than later – or much, much later.”
The ladder truck will also be manufactured by Atlantic Emergency Solutions at a cost of $2.39 million. It will be delivered to Station 202 on Hoover Road in approximately 20 months. Quincel said that the reason why the department will receive the apparatus in such a short amount of time is due to the fact that the ladder truck was also a “demo truck” at the manufacturing company.
Quincel added that the new ladder truck will replace the Quint truck which has served as the department’s unofficial ladder truck for several years. He also said the new ladder truck will allow the department to increase its daily manpower from 21 firefighters and paramedics to 24 firefighters and paramedics.
The two medics will be manufactured by the Grove City-based Horton Emergency Vehicles at a cost of $829,736. They are slated to be housed at Station 201 and Station 203 on London-Groveport Road.
Quincel said they will replace two backup medics that “probably should have been sold a few years ago.”
“One has 230,000 miles on it and they are no longer cost effective to repair,” he said.
Later this spring, the department is slated to receive a new medic that they purchased more than a year ago.
The maintenance truck will be purchased at Byers Chevrolet at a cost of $56,147. It will be used to carry extra tools and materials to fire scenes and other emergency runs.
Quincel said the purchase of these new emergency service vehicles were only made possible due to the community who voted in favor of a 4-mill fire replacement levy in 2020.
He said thanks to the citizens of the township, the city of Grove City, and the village of Urbancrest, the department was able to carryover funds and budget for these expenses.
“We would not have been able to do this without their support,” he said.