By Ron VandenBoom
The Havre Fire Department was kicking the tires on a new ambulance Monday that was in town for "show and tell."
The Med-Tec ambulance is one of two being considered by the department as the latest addition to its fleet.
The department is also looking at a Lifeline brand ambulance.
Havre fire chief Craig Ellingson said the department is familiar with Lifeline ambulances because the current fleet consists of two such vehicles that were purchased through a bond issue in 1991.
"And we've been very satisfied with their product," Ellingson said.
The fire department's ambulances have about 80,000 miles on them.
Ellingson said both are getting to an age when they need a lot of repair.
The cost of the new ambulance will be about $100,000 regardless of the brand the department decides to buy.
Money for the new ambulance would come from capital improvement funds already earmarked for capital improvements at the fire department, Ellingson said.
The fund so far has about $160,000, he said.
The new Med-Tec ambulance has many heavy duty, as well as unique features. One such feature is the outside rear-view mirrors that extend farther out to the side than regular mirrors and have a break-away feature that prevents them from being damaged in the event they are struck. They are also heated to prevent frosting and are adjustable from the inside for multiple views.
The ambulance also has an extra heavy-duty floor construction that allows for more room inside for medical personnel and for patients. Additional built-in storage space and both a back and a front entrance with non-skid running boards also make the new ambulance safer.
The Havre City Council has to approve the purchase of a new ambulance, but Ellingson said he hopes to have it approved within two months.
Ellingson said he wants to use the remainder of the capital improvement fund, about $60,000, to purchase a new rural fire truck.
Havre's current fleet of rural fire trucks include a 1973 Ford that is actually a converted grain truck, an Army surplus six-by-six, and an older fire truck that was originally at the Havre City-County Airport.