You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 7 a.m.

Ann Arbor Fire Department purchasing 2-person light rescue truck to handle medical calls

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor Fire Department will add a light rescue truck to its fleet after the City Council voted 11-0 Monday night to approve the $264,597 purchase.

The new truck, which will respond to medical calls, will be staffed with two firefighters and will replace a heavy rescue engine staffed with three firefighters.

The city hopes by sending a smaller truck to medical calls — instead of a large engine with three firefighters — it can reduce costs.


Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard

The heavy rescue engine, built in 2001, was scheduled for replacement in 2014-15. It will go into reserve, while a 1991 reserve engine will be removed from the fleet and sold at auction.

Thomas Gibbons, a financial analyst for the city's fleet and facilities division, wrote in a memo the smaller vehicle should be more maneuverable in narrow city streets and reduce wear and tear on the heavier fire apparatus, bringing down maintenance and repair costs.

"This unit will be lighter and have a shorter wheelbase than the heavy rescue engines that are currently used to respond to medicals calls and will also eliminate the use of Tower 1, or its replacement, on these same calls," Gibbons wrote.

Although the truck will have limited use in a structure fire response, Gibbons said, it should be able to be the first responder in about 70 percent of the department's calls.

It's going to take an estimated five months for delivery. Once it's in use, city officials believe it will help save on overtime costs as well.

The purchase of a light rescue truck was recommended earlier this year in a report by the International City/County Management Association, a consultant hired to study the fire department.

City officials sifted through seven proposals from companies interested in selling a truck to the city and decided to go with Louisiana-based Ferrara Fire Apparatus Inc., the lowest bidder.

Funds are coming from the fleet services fund balance.

  • Go here to see an example of Ferrara's light rescue trucks

The purchase comes as city officials continue to consider ways to make the fire department more efficient with a reduced staff. Another option being considered is the consolidation of fire stations, switching from a five-station model to a three-station model.

The light rescue truck is the second major purchase for the department in recent weeks. The City Council voted last month to purchase a new 100-foot aerial platform truck from Ohio-based Sutphen Corp. for more than $1 million. The council also accepted a grant to hire three more firefighters.

Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard told last month he expected the department to purchase two light rescue trucks, which he said would become "a vital part of our operation."

"They can be staffed with two personnel and will respond to the majority of the city's emergency calls," he wrote in an email. "They were recommended by the ICMA report, and will work in both our current system as well as the restructure plan. They will be equipped to handle any type call other than actual fire extinguishment, which is less than 30 percent of our responses."

Hubbard wasn't available Monday night to comment on whether he still plans to pursue the purchase of a second light rescue truck.

ICMA's study, which recommended the trucks, looked at the fire department's response times on medical calls compared to Huron Valley Ambulance. There were nearly 4,500 times during the one-year study period where both the fire department and HVA responded to the same medical call.

The fire department beat HVA to arrive first on the scene about 53.8 percent of the time. HVA's average response time was 7.3 minutes, compared to the fire department's 7.1 minutes.

Further analysis by ICMA revealed that when the fire department arrived on scene earlier than the HVA, on average it arrived 2.5 minutes earlier. And when HVA arrived on scene earlier than the fire department, on average it arrived 2.6 minutes earlier.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 1:49 a.m.

Doesn't take much to put a small pump, tank, and short hose on a rescue. For over quarter of a million, you would have thought they'd at least try to get a small amount of water on the rescue. Other townships pay half that for a rescue and have water on their rescue trucks.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Sep 19, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

@Pseudo & @Bob W.: The fire department is first to the scene of many medical emergencies, our fire fighters are fully trained to provide emergency medical care and a few minutes can mean the difference between life and death for many. If the fire department was properly staffed across their five stations, they would be able to have personnel respond to 90% of calls within four minutes, which is the national standard for fire response times, not seven plus. This is how things were until before the Mayor started cutting back the fire department. If you remove the fire department from medical emergency calls, you degrade the response time materially, since HVA's staffing model would result in slower response times than the national standards for fire fighters.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

Seems like a new ambulance should cost about $150K or so, and that a vehicle that isn't used for patient transportation shouldn't cost MORE than one that is.


Wed, Sep 19, 2012 : 10:41 a.m.

Suggest you look at the links. Vehicle would be equipped with hydraulic extrication tools ("Jaws of Life"), etc.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

gofigure, The AAFD chief is quoted in the story as saying: "They will be equipped to handle any type call other than actual fire extinguishment, which is less than 30 percent of our responses." and the City's financial analyst is quoted as saying: "Although the truck will have limited use in a structure fire response, Gibbons said, it should be able to be the first responder in about 70 percent of the department's calls." So, clearly the new vehicle won't be used for firefighting. Again, what distinguishes this piece of equipment from an ambulance and why is that difference worth $110K?

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

gofigure, this new vehicle isn't much of a "fire apparatus" according to the story. So what is you point?


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 5:31 p.m.

Ambulances are used for transportation. Ever see an ambulance used as a fire apparatus? DIdn't think so.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

Where will the new vehicle operate from? Will it stay at a specific location? Will it be the main responder to non fires regardless of whether a fire truck is closer? How will that impact the response times as measured against HVA? I assume this vehicle will not transport patients to hospitals? Yes? No? what percent of these medical responses require the "victim" to be transported to a local hospital?


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

I am confused as to who does what? Medical calls...shouldn't that be an ambulance? Isn't that what HVA does? Why the duplication?

Bob W

Wed, Sep 19, 2012 : 10:44 a.m.

+1, someone please explain. I hope it is not some "rule" that AAFD must also respond, if so, change the rules.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

Dose it have to be new? Did Pontiac or another municipality have a used truck we could have bought much cheaper?


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

Welcome to the 90's AAFD ... Glad you finally joined the rest of us!!


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

Glad to see the Departement is heading in the right direction. If it has everything the larger trucks have, able to maneuver more easily and cuts down on costs, I don't see what the problem is. Seems to me a win-win situation.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

Good job following ICMA recommendation for this purchase and change of practice. It better utilizes human and equipment resources. Kudos to mayor, council, and fire department.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

This is reallyy good news. Our fire department generally sends the biggest, noisiest, diesel burning vehicle in it's garage to sit rumbling in the road while Huron Valley Ambulance, who we thought we were summoning, takes care of business. What a waste of man and machine!


Wed, Sep 19, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

I had the same question, where is this one truck going to be "stationed" that it will be able to reach everywhere? One of the 3 remaining firehouses I imagine but this will be a good question to ask at one of the station closing meetings...

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

Ricebrnr , do we know that the "nearest available" will continue. If so then it seems the new vehicle will only be used IF it is closer to the scene than a fire truck. That doesn't seem clear to me one way or the other.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

@Elaine, apparently you have not noticed that ALL vehicles in the city working fleet from pick ups to the Dump Trucks to the Fire Apparatus burn diesel! And speaking of calling just HVA, remember your TAXES are paying for the fire and police departments / staffing....they DO NOT pay for HVA, that will be an additional bill sent to you or your insurance for thought.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

AAFD sends the nearest available personnel to a scene. They don't sit and figure out which is the most expensive rig or which will annoy the neighbors the most to use. And I thought I was cynical. Thank you AAFD for your service.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

TI think the concept of using a truck like this makes sense over a full scale engine, however I find it hard to believe that this type of vehicle costs $265,000!!! I thought something like this would cost in the $75,000 range!!!


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:06 p.m. This should give you a better idea why the cost is what it is. It's more than a 'Big pick-up truck'. After reading the article, sounds like they're as self contained as the larger trucks currenlty in use.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

Waste of Money!


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

Ms. Owsley - What is wrong with Diesel - in most cases it is more fuel efficient than gasoline engines. The new EPA standards removed most of the soot making materials and most of the smell making materials from Diesel fuels a couple of years ago. No more rotten egg smells following a properly tuned diesel anymore.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

Not when you consider the alternative is big, more expensive truck, that just sits by burning diesel.