The department bought a new ambulance to replace a 15-year-old truck, the oldest vehicle in its fleet.
Longboat Key Fire Rescue spent less than it budgeted for a custom-made ambulance it hopes will roll into its station sometime next week.
The $270,000 vehicle will replace a 15-year-old ambulance with 84,000 miles and 4,478 hours -- the equivalent of nearly half a year -- of running time, said Deputy Chief Chris Krajic, who oversaw a group of three paramedics who designed the truck to best fit their needs.
Fire Rescue budgeted $315,000 for a new ambulance.
“It’s a good value, we got a very nice truck, and it was well within budget,” Krajic said.
The initiative to purchase a new ambulance began a year ago when the department decided to replace its oldest emergency vehicle, known around the firehouse as Rescue 93, Krajic said.
Fire Rescue employs two other ambulances: one built in 2007, Rescue 92; and another constructed in 2010, Rescue 91.
It’s not that the Rescue 93 didn’t run anymore, Krajic said. He said department wanted to avoid a situation where paying for repairs would have “become an issue.”
“It’s just time to replace it,” Krajic said. “The mileage is excessive and the hours are getting high.”
So Krajic said he began looking at ambulance manufacturers with Florida contracts and narrowed a list to four emergency vehicle dealers around the state. He said he sought a nearby vendor to make it service visits easier.
The department chose Road Rescue Inc., an ambulance manufacturer in Winter Park, a suburb of Orlando, Krajic said.
“They built the truck that we needed and the truck that we wanted and they were very competitive in their pricing,” Krajic said of Road Rescue Inc.
Three paramedics collaborated for three months deciding what features would best suit their needs, including how many lights the ambulance would have, what sound the siren made and where the cabinets in the chassis were located.
The department also changed the vehicle’s paint scheme, what Krajic said would be the most notable change to Longboat Fire Rescue's latest addition to its fleet of ambulances.
After a day in Orlando ironing out the details last summer, Road Rescue Inc. got to work building the vehicle the department hopes to use for the next 12 to 15 years.
“It’s custom built for the people who are actually going to be using the truck,” Krajic said. “It’s a pretty good looking truck.”
The department traded-in the old Rescue 93 when it purchased the new truck, which it will call Rescue 91. The current Rescue 91, the 2010 vehicle housed at the north fire station, will be put on reserve and renamed Rescue 93, Fire Chief Paul Dezzi said.
Dezzi said he plans to replace the island's oldest fire truck, which is housed at the south station, next year. That purchase that could cost the department upward of $800,000.