- Chassis: 2003 Ford F550 XLT Super Duty
- Built By: Superior Emergency Vehicles
- NFPA Class: Type 7 Rescue
- Cost: $110,000
New Rescue Rig for Fire Department – Ferndale Enterprise – July 4, 2002
The Ferndale Volunteer Fire Department will soon order a medical truck to replace a too-small and outdated 20 year old unit, thanks to the generosity of several funding organizations and individuals.
More than $110,000 has been secured to purchase a new “rescue rig,” known in the department as $-4, according to Assistant Chief Tom Ford. The Bertha Russ Lytel Foundation granted $75,000 toward the purchase, and an anonymous individual, through the Humboldt Area Foundation, donated another $30,000. Memorial contributions to the Jerry Becker memorial fund will be used to make up the difference.
“Our current vehicle is totally overloaded,” explained Ford. “Three people can sit in the cab if you want to be sardines, and it won’t carry all our medical equipment.”
“At the time we purchased it, it was known as a fire support vehicle,” added Chief Dennis DelBiaggio. “Now it’s all medical.”
The department’s calls for service have also changed through the years. NowFVD, like most other fire services, is no longer primarily a “fire” department, with 60-80 percent of the calls requests for medical aid, according to Ford.
“With an increasingly senior population, we expect this trend to continue,” he said.
As to what model the department plans on ordering, Ford said after many meetings and much discussion amongst the chiefs, rescue squad members, other departments and manufacturers, the department believes it’s found a suitable design to fulfill its needs.
“The proposed new vehicle consists of a multi-compartment 12-foot aluminum light rescue body on an F-550 crew cab chassis,” Ford said. “It has readily accessible space for all of the current equipment, and hopefully a little room for future growth, as well as enough passenger space to carry most personnel needed on a medical scene.”
Currently, many members respond to emergency calls in their private vehicles, with (out) benefit of red lights or sirens.
“While this is a recognized hazard in volunteer departments everywhere, it could hopefully be lessened with the proposed five member crew cab,” added Ford.
Why did the department seek grant money rather than asking taxpayers to fund the much needed rig? Ford explained that since insurance rates are based primarily on the fire-fighting apparatus availability and reliability, it seems impossible to fund a medical/rescue vehicle with tax monies.
And, since California law requires a special election for an increase in taxes to pay for replacement engines, the department was hesitant to go to the voters, since fairly soon it will probably ask voters for help in funding a new engine, explained DelBiaggio.
While the funding has been secured for the medical unit, it’ll take almost a year to pull the new rig into the fire hall garage, once it’s ordered, said Ford.