The River Forest Fire Department is getting a new ambulance, but it’s going to take a while for it to get here.
At the Sept. 26 village board meeting, officials voted unanimously to approve a resolution to purchase a 2024 Life Line Type III Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance for $304,021 from Life Line Emergency Vehicles of Sumner, Iowa, the lower of two bidders.
Anticipated delivery is January 2025, well past the previous five- or six-month delivery time, according to Fire Chief Tom Gaertner, explaining that supply chain and staffing issues are causing the delay in delivery.
Those factors and inflation also have led to “numerous” price increases over the past year that are causing a “significant” escalation in costs for the chassis and production, he added. The budgeted amount for a new ambulance in the 2023 Capital Improvement Plan was $230,000.
The new ambulance will replace a 2014 Type III ALS ambulance, which Gaertner said is in the seventh year of its useful life of eight years. That vehicle will be put into a reserve status and used when the new unit goes down for maintenance, replacing a 2006 model.
“The current ambulance is pretty worn down,” Gaertner said. “We have had some engine issues recently that have put it out of service for a few hours here and there. It will work fine as a reserve unit when the time comes, but operating on a daily basis for the next 28 months is going to be interesting at best.
“With current supply chain issues getting parts can be difficult. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that nothing major happens to it.”
Gaertner said the new ambulance will have better emergency lighting, as well as a dual air-conditioning system that will provide better air flow to the rear of the ambulance and a AeroClave System which scrubs the air and surfaces of the interior of the ambulance, killing bacteria and air borne viruses such as COVID-19.
He said he does not anticipate any additional price increases and hopes that the delivery time might be shortened but “right now that doesn’t appear to be in the cards.”
The village board also voted unanimously at the Sept. 26 meeting to approve the purchase of two 2023 Dodge Durango police service vehicles from Thomas Dodge Chrysler Jeep of Highland Inc. of Highland, Ind., for $103,176, the amount included in the 2022-23 budget for replacing two police vehicles.
Police Chief Jim O’Shea explained that Thomas Dodge was chosen after department officials researched law enforcement special bid options and with the recommendation of the Southwest Conference of Mayors.
The new vehicles will replace a 2019 Dodge Durango patrol vehicle and a 2015 Ford Interceptor utility vehicle, both of which have been pushed out past their scheduled Capital Equipment Replacement Fund replacement cycles and are in need of replacement, according to O’Shea.
The $103,176 includes $84,692 for the all-wheel drive vehicles and $18,484 for police-specific equipment and labor for both vehicles. O’Shea said the aftermarket equipment will be purchased and installed after the vehicles are delivered, which he said is expected to be four to six months.
However, he noted that the department is still waiting for delivery of a Ford Explorer that was ordered over a year ago, adding, “I’m not holding my breath.”