Lehigh fire department plans to purchase new ambulances

Author: Andrew Scheinthal

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla.- It’s your money and the Lehigh Acres Fire Department is planning on spending $750,000 to replace three ambulances.

Some of their vehicles are breaking down with patients inside. Many of those ambulances are only 7 or 8 years old.

These aren’t your everyday vehicles, they are heavily used and driven at fast speeds. In just 7 years, some have more than 225,000 miles on them.

“It runs on the busiest days, like 15 calls,” said fireman David Montero.

Montero sees firsthand the wear and tear the ambulances receive.

“They’re sometimes unreliable, and we don’t want to have a patient in there and have it break down on the way to the hospital,” said Montero.

Assistant Fire Chief Ken Kraft says one ambulance broke down just last week.

“In the last couple months, three times we’ve been transporting patients into Fort Myers where the ambulances broke down,” said Kraft.

Those patients had to wait for another ambulance to come and pick them up. Precious minutes that Kraft says could mean the difference between life and death.

The purchase of the three new ambulances doesn’t come without controversy.

“I think it would be a waste of taxpayer money, like a lot of waste that goes on here in Lee County,” said resident B.J. Lancaster.

The fire department will temporarily lay off up to 46 firefighters before a new fire assessment fee kicks into place. That means they could be off the job for 8 months. Some residents want to use the money to keep those firefighters employed.

Kraft says legally, that money can only be spent on equipment. “We cannot move it over into salaries.”

Other residents say the purchase should have happened months ago.

“I would suggest they do it, I mean, let’s get it done,” said Terry Daugherty.

The fire department hopes to buy the ambulances sometime in the next few weeks. They say the ambulances will be ready to roll in July.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.