Engine failure leaves North Tonawanda short a rescue vehicle
Among those concerns was implementing a change in billing insurance companies for those incidents that involve the time and equipment of the fire department. Such as ambulance rides, use of defibulators, clean up by the Department of Public Works (DPW) and basic use of equipment.
According to the chief, billing insurance companies for services has been in the area for 10 to 15 years; however in past years former mayors and councils have tabled the issue.
Lapham believes the city should take advantage of this opportunity and get back the monies spent during these ocurrances.
“I am not reinventing the wheel, this has been around for a long time,” said Lapham. “A lot of other cities bill [the insurance companies] for their services.”
There are about 127 accidents in the city per year. As of now, North Tonawanda does not bill for any of the services they provide and many of those accidents involve insurance claims that can be sent out.
Tonawanda and the City of Buffalo have done this for three or four years now.
In addition, Lapham raised concern of a failed engine in one of the emergency vehicles, specifically Rescue 1. The 6.4 Liter Diesel Engine, built by Ford, is the second engine that has been installed in this specific vehicle within two years. The second engine failed exactly 53 weeks after the first engine failed.
The cost of a new engine is projected at $20,000, which the chief stated is budgeted for; however this cost will deplete his allotted amount of funds budgeted for other micesllaneous things it was already set aside for.
“I have that in my repair and maintenance funds, but it will decimate my budget,” said Lapham.
Lapham spoke with DeLacy Ford and according to Lapham they stated, “It’s not under warranty.”
In the event the engine is replaced, it will be the third engine in four years that has been installed in Rescue 1. The city currently has one reserve rescue vehicle.
“I need it [the vehicle] back in the city,” said Lapham,
The chief stated he has called Ford many times, specifically six or seven times, and they have not returned his phone calls. They fire department even has a claim number from the last purchase of an engine, but still no response from Ford.
Replacing the engine at the cost of $20,000 seems to be the most feasible answer to getting Rescue 1 back on the road. A newer version of the 6.3 Liter Engine is the 6.7 Liter Diesel Engine at a projected cost of $75,000. The only reason the chief has looked into the newer version of the diesel engine is because he has heard many complaints about the 6.3 Liter engine failing in other vehicles as well, including ambulances.
Alderman Russ Rizzo, who believes Ford would do the right thing and replace a faulty engine that they built, voiced his opinion to the council.
“If this is an ongoing thing that has happened before, on a vehicle of that age [only four years old], I can’t see Ford saying ‘no,’ said Rizzo.
At the cost of $20,000 the chief was told he can have the vehicle back up and running in the city within one to two weeks.
The council, the mayor and Chief Lapham are hopeful they will be able to find funds in the budget to solve this problem.