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By Chris Gizzi
O’HARA, Pa. – O’Hara Township council approved a motion on Tuesday for funds to be given to Parkview EMS for the replacement of a faltering ambulance.
Parkview EMS and Firehall President Bob Fisher spoke at the meeting about the issue they are having with Parkview’s current 2004 Ford ambulance. Bob is a resident of Parkview which is in O’Hara Township, and has been head of Parkview Fire hall and EMS for four years.
The ambulance, purchased in 2004, is having many major mechanical problems and needs to either be replaced or refurbished to solve the issue. Parkview EMS has three ambulances. There is a 2000, a 2004 and a 2008. Ford took over the drivelines of all of their ambulances from International in 2004. Although the cabs and chassis still are made by Ford, International took over the driveline again until their contract expires at the end of 2009. When International’s contract runs up with Ford, Ford will start making the drivelines once again with a clean burning diesel engine with a chemical called urea in it, which raises major concern.
“We want to replace the 2004. We’ve had major mechanical problems with it more than anything else. It is actually slated for replacement next year but we are asking a year early due to the major mechanical problems. The 2000 as well as the 2008 have been very good and reliable and have had minimal issues with them,” Fisher said.
“The 2008, obviously brand new, we’ve had no problems with. The 2004 we’ve replaced the turbo-charger three times, fixed a head on the engine and have had the engine replaced since then and we are still having problems,” said Fisher.
The 2000 engine was built by International, then taken over by Ford in 2004, then taken over again in 2008 by International. All of the problems seem to be occurring only in the Ford motor and not the two International motors. Before Ford takes over again in 2010, they would like to get the ambulance with the International motor ordered before the deadline which is by the end of this Thanksgiving week.
“What we are looking for is a refurbishment as compared to a replacement, which is a big price difference,” said Fisher.
“In January, these new engines from Ford will be built in Mexico with an additive called urea. It’s an additive that goes in with the diesel fuel in a separate tank and it’s supposed to be a cleaner burning outcome of engine emissions. No one will know what the outcome of this new engine will be, so we would like to get the order in with the International motor to avoid those types of problems,” said Fisher.
The refurbishment is going to cost the township $131,000 from the emergency equipment fund.
Dempsey Bruce, who is a councilman for O’Hara Township as well as the head of Public Works for Fox Chapel Borough, agrees with Fisher.
“We ran into the same problem at Fox Chapel Borough. We’re up for a new dump truck with this new chemical in it as well, and from what I’ve heard from other manufacturers, it doesn’t sound good,” said Bruce. “It’s still in the experimental stages, and this urea can freeze in cold temperatures.”
Another issue with the urea chemical is that no one seems to know a lot about it. For example, when the chemical runs out, will it cease the motor from running? The issue that it could cause serious engine damage if such an event happens has grabbed the attention of Fisher as well.
“Everybody I hear from and that I’ve talked to, including mechanics and other people that may have to deal with this issue, said nothing good. Councilman Bruce is pushing for a new dump truck for 2010 to get the motor without urea instead of their slated date 2011,” said Fisher.
Township manager Julie Jakubec who has been O’Hara Township’s manager since 2006, was a little bit shaky, yet optimistic about the money coming out of the emergency equipment fund.
“With all of the other costs that have come from the emergency equipment fund, it would take us down to around $10,000 by the end of 2010,” said Jakubec.
The emergency equipment fund is something O’Hara puts aside as part of their budget for emergencies that may arise during the year.
“By ordering this refurbishment before the deadline we will save around $18,000 dollars. If we decide to go with a new ambulance instead of a refurbishment, it will cost us more. All we are asking from the township is the proposed amount for the refurbishment and if there are any additional costs, Parkview EMS will cover it,” said Fisher.
“Even with fund balance, cash, and along with the morphing of the fund balance between fire halls and the EMS stations in O’Hara, there is enough money for this transaction to go through on this year’s budget,” said Jakubec.