Jackson Township trustees last month approved the purchase of two new vehicles for the township's fire department.

A new engine/rescue vehicle will replace Engine 203 at Fire Station 203 on London-Groveport Road.

An ambulance will replace Medic 202 at Fire Station 202 on Hoover Road.

"Our vehicles get a lot of wear and tear put on them," Chief Randy Little said. "We follow a general plan for replacing our vehicles and have a detailed maintenance program to ensure our vehicles operate at peak efficiency and we can continue to provide the best service for our community."

The township participates in a state-term contract program created by the 1985 Ohio Cooperative Purchasing Act.

"It allows us to buy vehicles at the lowest and best price without having to go through a bid process ourselves," Little said.

The new engine/rescue vehicle will cost $626,339 and the township is purchasing the new ambulance for $299,700, he said.

Purchasing a safety vehicle "isn't like going to a dealership to buy a car for your family," Little said.

Fire departments order their vehicles custom-made, he said.

"You can have the vehicle custom-built and designed to meet your department's needs and to best fit how they are going to be used," Little said.

Jackson Township is purchasing its engine from the Dublin-based Sutphen Corporation and the ambulance from Horton Emergency Vehicles, a Grove City company.

The new ambulance will take about five months to build while the engine should be ready for delivery in about 14 months, Little said.

"We try to replace our engines every 10 years and our ambulances every five years," he said.

Both Engine 203 and Medic 202 have years beyond that standard, and that's largely because of the maintenance program supervised by deputy fire chief Shawn Quincel, he said. Engine 203 came on board on 2006 and Medic 202 in 2008.

Last year, the department began contracting with Fire Apparatus Service & Repair of Xenia to provide inspection, maintenance and repair services for the fleet.

"It's great because they come to us to inspect our vehicles," Quincel said. "They have a big truck that backs right up to our fire bays, so they can basically bring their shop to us. It allows us to get things repaired and inspected quickly and efficiently."

Each fire vehicle goes through a state-certified inspection once a year, Quincel said. Fire Apparatus now conducts those inspections.

The department expects to save about $100,000 a year by contacting with a third party, he said. As of Nov. 1, the department had spent $176,736 in its maintenance program.

Previously, the department had a person on staff to complete inspection and maintenance work, Little said.

The cost savings will come from not having to pay salary and benefits for that person and not having the need for equipment in house to complete repairs and maintenance, he said.

Firefighters complete a check of each vehicle each day, making sure elements such as tire pressure and oil and fluid levels are correct, Little said.

"One of the biggest issues we face with an emergency vehicle is having to go immediately from a cold start," he said. "It's not like coming out to your car in the morning and letting it warm up before you start out. We've got to be able to get out and go."

At each of the department's four fire stations, firefighters keep vehicles plugged into a charger to make sure the batteries are "topped off," Little said.

The department's front-line vehicles include two engine/rescues, a fire engine, a ladder truck, four medic units, one battalion vehicle, two rescue boats and a hazardous material response unit.

"These are the vehicles in use each day at our fire stations," Little said. "We also have two engines and four medics we use as back-ups.

"They are older models that have been replaced, but we keep them in case a front-line vehicle needs a major repair and has to be out of service," he said.