Fire department orders new ambulance

Vashon will have a brand-new aid car by this summer. Vashon Island Fire & Rescue officials ordered an ambulance from Chehalis-based Braun Northwest yesterday, after the fire board approved the purchase at its Tuesday night meeting.

The custom-made aid car will cost $146,000, and King County Emergency Medical Services will pick up the tab, said Assistant Chief Mike Kirk.

When it arrives — by August — the vehicle will replace the oldest of the fire department's four ambulances, which is about 15 years old. The retired vehicle will be sold as surplus, he said.

Braun Northwest will build the aid car patient "box" and all its components, which will be affixed to a standard Ford vehicle chassis, said paramedic Mark Brownell. One of the four Vashon aid cars is made by Braun, Kirk said.

The fire department sought bids for its new aid car earlier this month. Braun Northwest and a South Carolina-based company gave estimates on the vehicle.

Braun's proposal was both $2,000 less expensive and "a superior vehicle," said Chief Hank Lipe at Tuesday's meeting.

Aid cars are driven harder than home or business vehicles, Brownell said, necessitating their repair or replacement on a regular basis. Brakes, tires and transmissions are a few of the components that are replaced frequently on aid cars.

"It's rapid stop and go," he said. "Either you're all go, or you're all stop."

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