Ill. city fire dept. gets new chassis for old ambulance

The East Peoria Fire Department found a satisfying way to upgrade its ambulance fleet and save the city money at the same time


Scott Hilyard
Journal Star, Peoria, Ill.

EAST PEORIA — Three years ago the East Peoria Fire Department found a satisfying way to upgrade its ambulance fleet and save the city money at the same time. So, it made sense to repeat the process the next time it needed to replace an ambulance.

Recycle. Reduce. Reuse.

Arrow will strip the old EP ambulance box down to its aluminum shell, repaint it and rebuild it like new, then mount it to the new chassis, a Dodge Ram 5500 4x4 Diesel. (Photo/East Peoria Fire Department)
Arrow will strip the old EP ambulance box down to its aluminum shell, repaint it and rebuild it like new, then mount it to the new chassis, a Dodge Ram 5500 4x4 Diesel. (Photo/East Peoria Fire Department)

"It worked out well for us last time to look at a used, refurbished ambulance," Deputy Fire Chief Ryan Beck said Tuesday. "We're doing it a little differently, but we are still looking at fixing up an older ambulance and putting it into service."

The city council on Tuesday approved the final purchase amount for a new Dodge ambulance chassis. The department's 2008 model ambulance is in Rock Rapids, Iowa at Arrow Manufacturing awaiting the new chassis — it's on the emergency vehicle version of a backorder — and will refurbish the old box and attach it to the new frame. The process saves the city more than $64,000 over the cost of a brand new ambulance.

The council approved a down payment to Arrow last fall of $67,597 and the remaining balance of $107,098 on Tuesday. It also approved $10,571 for the purchase and installation of radios and related equipment in the new ambulance from Ragan Communications in Washington. A brand new ambulance costs around $250,000, Beck said.

Arrow will strip the old EP ambulance box down to its aluminum shell, repaint it and rebuild it like new, then mount it to the new chassis, a Dodge Ram 5500 4x4 Diesel. The chassis has been on order since last November, immediately unavailable due to the popularity of the model, Beck said. The new ambulance will be ready for delivery 90 days after Arrow receives the new chassis from the manufacturer.

"Hopefully we have it in service by the end of summer," Beck said. "But right now we really don't know."

The new ambulance will be one of two ambulances in the city fully-staffed with paramedics and in service 24 hours a day, and bump the department's 2011 model to "jump truck" status, used when the first two are tied up.

To upgrade its fleet, the city purchased a new chassis and a refurbished box from Arrow in 2016 for about $214,000. The city saved even more money this time around by providing its own used box for Arrow to refurbish.

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©2019 the Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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