A new bright red rescue truck was put into service with the Rome Fire Department this week, a truck that the firefighters had a hand in building.
The new truck is a 2019 Chevy utility truck instead of a custom-made fire apparatus. The city’s firefighters themselves designed and built the back of the truck, where the medical equipment is stored. Rescue 1 will respond to medical calls throughout the city.
“We basically put the package together ourselves, trying to save money,” said Fire Chief Ronald M. Brement. “We tried to think outside the box. We laid it out according to our needs.”
The new rescue truck will replace an older truck that was only supposed to fill the role temporarily. The last time the fire department had a truck designed specifically for medical calls was in the 2000s, and Brement said that truck had a lot of engine problems in the end.
They eventually replaced it with a pickup truck that had been used for haz-mat calls, and that temporary replacement had been their go-to rescue truck for the past several years. In deciding on the new truck, Brement said they looked at what it would take to get another rescue-specific apparatus, and the cost was nearly $170,000. So instead, the firefighters ordered a more simple utility truck and turned it into a rescue truck themselves, building it to their own wants and needs.
Brement said the project cost about $60,000. They had outside help installing the radios, lights and decals, he noted.
“It’s a busy rig. It’s on the road every day,” the Rome Fire chief said, answering upward of 10 to 15 calls a day for service.
The new truck is expected to last about six to eight years, the chief noted.
The fire department’s annual budget for 2019 is $6.4 million.