June 20, 2024

NFD replaces chassis after ambulance was destroyed by fire

Council also approves purchase of new support vehicles for fire station

Traffic drives by the Newton Fire Department, which recently had an ambulance destroyed in a fire that is currently being investigated by insurance companies. The city council approved the purchase of a replacement chassis at a special meeting in January, as well as two used support vehicles at the Feb. 5 meeting.

Newton City Council called for a special meeting on Jan. 23 in order to replace a chassis for an ambulance that was destroyed in a fire one week before. Newton News learned the vehicle had just returned from a call and then unexpectedly caught fire while waiting in the ambulance bay.

According to city documents, the ambulance is expected to be a total loss. The fire department had four Type III Module ambulances for emergency medical response: a 2010 reserve model, a 2016 model, a 2019 model and a 2023 model. It is expected insurance proceeds will cover the full cost of the chassis.

The City of Newton has a good relationship with Klocke Emergency Vehicles of Sterling, Ill., which is where the city purchased its ambulances from in the past. The owner is retiring and passed the dealership for LifeLine Ambulances to employee Dalton Jacobsen, under the name Legacy Emergency Vehicles.

Dalton has been extremely helpful as the city plans for the replacement of the damaged ambulance. Current production time for ambulances is two years, but a recent cancellation of an ordered unit has left Dalton with a chassis that will need to be sold. With the chassis being delivered soon, build time may be reduced.

“I consider us fortunate to have this chassis available,” city staff said of the 2024 E-450 van chassis in the council report, the cost of which would be $49,705, paid from the tort liability fund. “We would be required to pay for the chassis upon delivery, which is expected in the next couple of weeks.”

Although no other vehicles were damaged by the fire, the fire department did recently add other vehicles to its fleet. During the Feb. 5 city council meeting, Newton Fire Department requested approval to purchase two used fire command vehicles for utility and support functions.

The fire department was approved to use 2023 bond funds to purchase a new command vehicle, and administrators had been trying to find a vehicle for purchase under state bid documents. But vehicles have been very hard to find and get outfitted, leading to Newton Fire being put on multiple waiting lists.

However, the waiting lists have all ended with no vehicles available for purchase.

The current fleet of support vehicles include a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado, a 2000 GMC pickup and a 2007 Ford Expedition. The latter of the three has experienced major mechanical issues and a transmission in need of replacement. The pickup was purchased as a snow plow and utility vehicle, but it, too, is having issues.

According to council documents, the two used command vehicles are a 2012 Chevrolet Suburban and a 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe being sold by the Pleasantville Fire District. The city plans to sell the Expedition for salvage and to sell the GMC as is. The total cost to purchase the two used vehicles is $55,000, plus shipping.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.