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Council looking at options for newest ambulance, sell or keep for fire department

By Howard B. Owens

Interim Fire Chief Ralph Hyde has a simple request: Let him use the newest of the retired city ambulances as an additional emergency response vehicle.

It would carry specialized rescue equipment that doesn't currently fit on the fire trucks and provide an air-conditioned space for overheated firefighters to rest when on scene of fires.

Hyde said with all the equipment stored in one mobile vehicle, instead of lockers in the fire station, the equipment could be deployed to emergency scenes when needed much more rapidly.

Councilman Bill Cox questioned, however, the wisdom of not selling the most valuable of the old ambulances at a time when the city still has $1.3 million in debt.

His suggestion set off a discussion last night that revealed that four of the council members present favored letting Hyde repurpose the ambulance, and four favoring selling it.

Councilman Bob Bialkowski suggested that the city look at selling the ambulance -- which has 50,000 miles on it -- and using that money to buy a new, potentially more suitable, all-wheel-drive vehicle for the fire department.

All members agreed the city should at least explore that idea.

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