STANTON — Montcalm County Emergency Services continues to move forward in improving its fleet of rescue vehicles.
Members of the Montcalm County Finance & Personnel Committee voted Monday to recommend the full board approve purchasing a new medical first responder vehicle and rescue accessories from two Greenville businesses.
Four bids were submitted for the vehicle, a 2013 Ford F-150. Bids included $24,648 from Krapohl Ford, $24,103 from Signature Ford, $24,078.68 from Ed Koehn Ford and $23,968 from Fremont Ford.
Emergency Services Director David Feldpausch recommended accepting the bid from Ed Koehn Ford because the dealership is a Greenville business.
“It’s my recommendation, especially when the difference is only $110, to keep the money local,” Feldpausch said.
Three bids were submitted for rescue vehicle accessories, including $24,300 from Front Line Services, $19,573.82 from Casair and $18,279.79 from The Topper Shop.
Feldpausch recommended accepting the lowest bid from The Topper Shop in Greenville.
Commissioners also voted to recommend the full board approve selling a 1999 Ford vehicle, the former Rescue 25 unit, to Knight Auto Sales, which submitted the only bid received by the county of $1,051.
According to Feldpausch, Emergency Services currently has 10 front line rescue vehicles and two back-up units. He is in the process of replacing one of the two remaining 2002 vehicles and the other will be replaced next year.
“I hope that by this time next year our oldest front line rescue unit will be a 2009,” Feldpausch told The Daily News. “I made the decision to hold on to one of each type of rescue unit (medical first responder and extrication) as we started the replacement process so we always had a spare to keep them in service for maintenance or repair issues that arise. My original plan was to begin to replace front line rescue units one per year on a 10-year cycle. We have been fortunate and our new vehicle designs have saved us a considerable amount of money so we are ahead of schedule, but once we have them all replaced we will resort to the one per year plan.”
Feldpausch said most of the rescue vehicles are almost completely used up when the county decides to sell them via a sealed bid process. One exception was a unit in relatively good condition which the county sold to the Crystal Township Fire Department for $1 last year.
“When we get one that is in decent condition, we hang on to it as an administrative vehicle and rotate them out of the system in that capacity once the maintenance cost outweigh the benefit of ownership,” he said. “This saves us the replacement cost on administrative vehicles, allows us to get every last dollar of use out of them, and each of our administrative vehicles can double as a response vehicle if needed.”
As far as ambulances, Feldpausch is in the process of installing a 10th unit. He has had good success in remounting the ambulance body on a new chassis. He said an ambulance body can be remounted twice before removing it from service, saving $20,000 to $30,000 over the cost of a new one.
The ambulances are almost entirely switched over from diesel to gasoline engines now. Feldpausch was replacing diesel units approximately every five years or 300,000 miles. He expects to replace gasoline units sooner than 300,000 miles.
“We need to evaluate the maintenance expense on them as mileage increases to determine at what point it is no longer cost effective to continue to operate them,” he said. “My hope is that with the 10th unit we will be able to hold the mileage down and stay around the five-year mark. My plan is to replace or remount two ambulances each year going forward.
The old ambulance chassis is generally disposed of as part of the remount bid process.
For more information about Montcalm County Emergency Services, visit montcalm.org/ems online.