AUBURN — The township trustees subgranted more than $200,000 of their CARES Act funding to the Auburn Volunteer Fire Department for the purchase of an additional ambulance Monday night.
Trustee Mike Troyan explained that the private nonprofit fire department currently has two rescue squads that they have to clean and disinfect between calls, but with the number of simultaneous emergency calls increasing, this has not been easy to maintain. With COVID-19 restrictions and sanitization requirements, he said the department has displayed a significant need for the additional ambulance.
“We’ve been getting into multiple calls [at the fire department], and it takes roughly an hour and a half to two hours to sanitize the squads between calls,” he said, echoing fire Chief John Phillip’s statements from previous meetings. “So, if you have a back-to-back call, there’s no time to actually sanitize it. So what we need is to have a third squad in rotation so we can always have one sanitized and ready to go out.”
Fiscal Officer Fred May said the township received a total of $306,539 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding.
As of Monday night, the trustees were able to encumber a total of about $98,000. The trustees’ approved purchases included three laptops for remote work at $1,000 each, touchless electronic valves for sink faucets throughout the township at $13,538, a remodel of the administration building’s utility/dining room at about $9,000 and the purchase of a pick-up truck at about $36,000 to allow transport of additional workers while maintaining social distancing, among other COVID-19, sanitization-related expenditures.
The township will also be implementing virtual meetings via Zoom with the purchase of a $150 Zoom membership and will allow better social distancing for meetings at Adam Hall with a 70-inch media screen and corresponding audio-visual system installations at a total of about $3,500.
“That’s everything we can come up with that’s [COVID-19] related at the township level,” Trustee Patrick J. Cavanagh said. “One of the abilities that is given through the CARES Act is we can designate a subgrant. After looking at [several] possibilities, one that came up would be the [fire department].”
With about $208,355 left over in CARES Act funds, the trustees approved subgranting it over to the volunteer fire department to put toward the purchase of what Chief Phillips said would be a “Ford F450 chassis with a squad box in the back.”
Trustee Mike Troyan said the ambulance is worth $229,667, so the fire department would foot the remaining balance for the vehicle.
Chief Phillips said the fire department went through seven vendors before they found the available vehicle, explaining that they needed an ambulance ready to ship and be delivered and in use by Dec. 30 per CARES Act requirements.
Mr. Troyan explained that the fire department specifically will be purchasing the ambulance and will be listed on the title of the new vehicle, not the township. He said this is necessary for insurance purposes as the fire department is a private company that will be using it.
He said the county prosecutor advised this was the best way to handle the subgrant and purchase of the vehicle.
Chief Phillips added that if the private department for any reason ceased services for the township, all equipment, including the new ambulance, would revert to the township.
“So, there’s a level of protection for the township in subgranting this,” he said.