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City of Lanett purchases new ambulance

LANETT — One of the City of Lanett’s major investments for fiscal year 2020 arrived in town late Wednesday night. It’s a new ambulance that’s valued in the $200,000 range, and according to Fire & EMS Chief Johnny Allen, it’s is well worth it.

“We are very, very pleased with it,” he said Thursday morning. “We try to replace one every four years. This one gives us six active front-line trucks. We have three ambulances, three firefighting apparatus, two command vehicles and two reserve pumpers.”

The new ambulance is a four-wheel drive, just like the last one purchased several years ago.

“Some people think an ambulance doesn’t need to be four-wheel drive, but we’ve found out from experience that it needs to be,” Allen said. “We had to make some runs several years back when we had some ice and snow. We had to get to some places we couldn’t have gotten to in a two-wheel drive vehicle. Having a four-wheel-drive was a lifesaver that day.”

The new unit will allow Lanett Fire & EMS to maintain its advanced life support fleet at three.

“This will enable us to continue providing the quality of service those we serve have come to expect and certainly deserve,” Allen said. “We provide approximately 150 square miles with EMS coverage. This includes going to the northeast corner of Chambers County to the Randolph County line. When needed, we have backup coverage for West Point, Valley and LaFayette. We responded to more than 3,100 calls in 2019.”

Allen said he wanted to thank the Fire & EMS departments in West Point and Valley. “They were very helpful to us, and we appreciate that,” he said. “We had a back-up vehicle here from West Point for three months. We will clean it up real good and take it back to them on Friday. We found about the company that made our new ambulance through East Alabama. I had never heard of Frazer Built Ambulance Company of Houston, Texas until I learned that East Alabama was looking at one of their vehicles. I went down to see what they had and was impressed.”

He was impressed enough to purchase an advanced life support ambulance from them. The Lanett City Council approved $208,000 for the purchase, but Allen negotiated out some of the features, getting the sale price down to $198,275.

“We were able to save our citizens some money by eliminating some perks that don’t increase the quality of service,” he said.

Something Allen really likes about the Frazer Built ambulances is that the truck cab and ambulance box have separate electrical and heating/cooling systems.

“Over my years of experience, the most costly repairs have been due to electrical problems and problems with the heating and cooling,” Allen said. “One of the main reasons for choosing Frazer Built is the innovative solutions they have developed for this. The HVAC unit is totally independent from the truck, and the new electrical system will drastically reduce these costs.”

Frazer Built started out building custom trucks for the Texas oil industry. This required rugged vehicles that would be reliable in remote locations. As domestic oil production in the southwest declined, they’ve moved toward building ambulances.

The new unit that pulled into Lanett Wednesday night is built onto a Ford F450 chassis.

“I want to thank Mayor Kyle McCoy and the city council for continually providing our department with quality equipment and investing in quality personnel,” Allen said. “We truly appreciate their continued support. I’m also grateful for the excellent working relationships we have with the other Fire & EMS departments in our local area. This reason for this, I believe, is that we have the same objective — to take care of our patients and each other. Thank you, Kerry Pickard of East Alabama for informing me about the Frazer Built Company and thanks to Chief Mitt Smith of the West Point Fire Department for allowing us to use one of their ambulances when we were down one.”