Branford Assistant Fire Chief Shaun Heffernan said Life Line Emergency Vehicles are usually out of the department’s price range. “They are a Cadillac,” he said figuratively, “and we can afford a Ford.”
Last summer Heffernan said he saw a demo model of a 2011 Life Line Type III Superliner ambulance at a show in Mass. The ambulance has a little more than 4,000 miles on it and Heffernan said he thought it might be a good option for the purchase of their 2012 ambulance. The department kept their hopes up to purchase it and recently the Board of Selectmen granted the wish.
All bids for a 2012 Class I Type III ambulance were rejected per the BOS and the body also approved the request to purchase a "2011 Life Line Type III Superliner Custom 167’’ modular ambulance with 72’’ headroom on a 2011 Chevy G4500 chassis for $169,067.02."
“We never really pursued [Life Line],” said Heffernan, “because they are always out of out price range.”
Every two years Branford purchases a new ambulance, said Heffernan, using a budgeted amount of $170,000. The money comes from an annual $85,000 in sinking funds.
Branford currently uses four ambulances from company head quarters – two of which are manned by fulltime staff and two, which are operated by part-timers. The fleet is rotated with the newest ambulances on the frontline and the older ones as secondary. Every two years an ambulance is traded in for about $5,500; the oldest ambulance on the fleet is a 2002.
Last year Branford ran 3,877 medical calls with the ambulance fleet – those runs do not include responses to fires or motor vehicle accidents.
Before getting approval to purchase the new Life Line Superliner, Branford Fire Department received two bids for a new ambulance. A North Haven-based dealer bid $169,900 but was unable to meet 67 of the department’s 268 spec requirements. A New York-based dealer was able to meet the specs but did not hold the appropriate DMV requirements; that bid came in at $167,431.
In the future, Heffernan said Branford will be re-using all ambulance boxes and replacing just the chassis. Making this move, he added, will save the department about $70,000 every two years; this savings will drop the trade-in value of ambulances about $2,000.
About three years ago, Heffernan said Branford purchased their ladder fire truck for $708,000 – this truck was also a demo model he detailed. “Demos save municipalities a lot of money. That’s really one of the big reasons we did it,” he said.
The new ambulance is being painted just for Branford now and will be shipped to the department in March 20.
You can learn more about Life Line Emergency Vehicles online www.lifelineambulance.com or download the PDF detailing the Superliner.