Arlington Fire to replace aging medic unit after too many visits to repair shop

ARLINGTON – The Arlington Fire Department is replacing an aging medic unit after one too many costly visits to the repair shop.

The 2008 basic life support EMS transport vehicle required $54,500 in repairs over the past three years, including $35,550 over a six-month period in 2017.

Keeping the medic unit in the fleet makes no sense, interim Fire Chief Dave Kraski told the City Council Monday.

“We don’t want to throw good money after bad,” he said, adding the book value on the repair-prone rig is about $12,000.

The council approved a request for $125,000 to purchase a new medic unit.

Actually, Kraski said, the city got a better deal on the vehicle when the company the department usually buys through learned Arlington Fire was looking elsewhere because the price was too high. To keep the city’s business, the company came up with a creative solution that will mount a North Star box with minor damage onto a new Dodge 3500 ambulance chassis. The new outfitted medic unit won’t arrive until fall.

The purchase will be covered using unrestricted excess revenue from the 2017 general fund.

“Some of our revenues such as sales tax have been exceeding our projections,” finance director Kristin Garcia said.

City Administrator Paul Ellis said the city has a replacement program that takes vehicles offline under reserve status, but this medic unit, also serving as the backup among four existing aid cars, gave out sooner than anticipated.

“Things break sometimes, and that leads to unplanned expenses,” Mayor Barb Tolbert summed up.

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