Board OKs new vehicle, equipment for Addison FD

Several new big-ticket items will soon outfit the Addison Township Fire Department. A new ambulance, a thermal imaging camera and 10 sets of turnout gear were unanimously approved for purchase, bypassing Addison’s purchasing ordinance for the gear and camera, by the Addison Township Board at its April 15 meeting.

The fire board did not vote on the purchases due to lack of quorum at its March 19 meeting as it usually would have, but chairman Mark Smith sent a letter to the board saying he would encourage township board members to vote on the purchases on April 15, citing a sensitive timeframe.

The ambulance

The department’s new ambulance, which will cost $208,514.00 from Rolland Specialty Vehicles and Products (RSVP), will have a pickup truck front end chassis. The older ambulance this new one will replace has a van-style chassis.

“Right now we have van-style front end chassis and we wanted to do a little research on pickup truck front ends,” Fire Chief Jerry Morawski told the board. “They’re a little heavier duty for our dirt roads, and that’s what we’ve come up with now.”

The pickup truck-style vehicle, which will also have four-wheel drive and a diesel engine, will replace a nine-and-a-half-year-old ambulance that Morawski said will likely be 10 years old by the time it’s sold. A new ambulance was approved as part of the 2018 budget, but Morawski and his crew wanted “to do a little more research” before changing vehicle styles. The chief noted that a pickup truck vehicle is similar in price to the van style.

With this new ambulance, the department will have one advanced life support (ALS) vehicle and another that can become ALS when needed, but will usually function as basic life support (BLS). Morawski said this could be an advantage when one ambulance is in use driving out of town.

“When the first one leaves town on medical or to the hospital or whatever, you know, because sometimes our hospitals are so far away, we have another rig in town,” he said.

The chief added that the diesel engine, though it is more expensive, will also come with benefits. Because the ambulances often lay idle, fuel won’t burn as fast as gasoline would. If it does, the fire department has its own diesel reserves. “If the power ever went out or whatever, I have diesel fuel here at the station,” Morawski said.

The old ambulance will be sold, but Morawski said it will be for a fraction of the hundreds of thousands it was bought for: around $15,000 or $20,000.

“That’s another reason why we kept the ambulance another year,” he said. “They don’t hold a resale value.”

The turnout gear

The 10 sets of gear, the uniforms firefighters don when they head to a scene, will cost $21,050.00 from Douglass Safety. The department also bought 10 sets in 2018.

“We’ll have 20 sets of gear now that are only a year apart,” Morawski said.

The department is required to replace its gear every 10 years, so these uniforms will last Addison for a while.

Even though the price tag is rather steep, Morawski assured the board that he and his team took many cost-cutting measures in the process and understands frustration that comes from such a high cost.

“Unfortunately, this gets really expensive,” he said. “It irritates me how expensive it’s getting. Ten sets of gear and it’s $2,100 for a set of gear now. It’s outrageous.”

The thermal imaging camera

The camera, which will help firefighters better identify heat centers, will be fitted to Engine 1, which the department purchased last year. It will cost $6,958.95, and the funds come entirely from a grant from the Four County Community Foundation.

Morawski, who expressed his appreciation to firefighter Robert Fitzpatrick for writing the grant, said the camera will be an asset to the department.

“It’s a heat camera to see houses and inside of houses,” he said.”They make overhaul and things like that a little easier and find the fire faster.”

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