Delta Fire Department Pleads With Village Council To Let It Own Vintage Ambulance

The village of Delta’s first rescue vehicle will likely remain in the community, but with the Fire Department picking up the tab.

The department has a strong attachment to the 1957 ambulance that once served the community. The desire to not lose local control reached a fever pitch March 6 when several members and Chief Scott Smith attended the Village Council meeting to plead their case.

Attired in their dress whites, the firefighters hoped to convince the council to sign over the vehicle to them. The village owns the vehicle and has been paying for its insurance, but that runs out in July.

Village Administrator Brad Peebles has developed an agreement he believes the firefighters will sign. The document calls for the Fire Department to pay for the insurance and maintenance, while the village retains ownership.

If and when the department no longer wishes to possess the vehicle, it will be let out for bids and be sold, Peebles said. The village will retain ownership because no tax was paid on the vehicle when it was originally purchased, he said.

Members of the Delta Community Fire Department fear a third party will come in and take it out of town. The vehicle has held a spot in the department’s and community psyche for decades.

The Delta Fire Company, as the department was known in 1957, ordered the chassis, and a local company built the body. The ambulance served as part of the fleet into the 1980s.

Since then the department has used the vehicle in parades and as part of its public relations effort, Smith said. The vehicle is in storage now.

Ownership of the rescue truck is in doubt. The township and village have held the title and the company paid for it when it was built.

The department wants the village to acknowledge the DCFD actually owns the vehicle.

“We feel it was wrongly taken away from us,” Firefight Josh Heinaman said. “The township had no way of giving it to us.

“All of our own meeting minutes state we bought it.”

The department wants outright ownership and a new agreement signed so in the future there will be no confusion. The fear is the makeup of the village council changes so often the current arrangement could be forgotten in 10 years.

The lack of sales tax being paid, requires the village or some level of government by law maintain ownership, Peebles said

Chief Smith said he understands the village’s desire to be out from responsibility of the ambulance, but at the same time he doesn’t want to lose it for historical and sentimental reasons.

The rescue vehicle was purchased originally in 1957 when the village needed such a unit. The Delta Fire Company was a private association and bought the Chevrolet Chassis. A local company in Delta built the body and assembled it, Smith said.

One side note, the actual title from 1957 and is in the village’s possession and it is as valuable as the ambulance itself, Peebles said.

The village’s law director will investigate the matter and report back to council.

In other news:
The council approved the third reading of Ordinance 17-03 authorizing a contract with Delta Dawn Ranger for lawn care.

The council approved the first reading of Ordinance 17-07 which establishes wages for village employees. This law adjusts the hourly wage of Charles (Tony) Smith for securing a Class 1 operators license for waste-water operations by 75 cents per hour.

Approved Ordinance 17-08 (first reading) to make Huntington Bank to be the depository for active, inactive and interim funds not to exceed $2 million. The agreement is for five years. The village will maintain Farmers and Merchants Bank for its regular banking.

Approved Ordinance 17-09 (first reading) authorizing the village administrator to offer for sale by sealed bids Wildwood Park and Rogers Road Compost facility. The former park is 7.73 acres and the facility is 1.77 acres.

The village will meet with homeowners and property owners along Wilson Street March 29 to discuss plans to repair the bridge connecting the street to the town.

James Pruitt may be reached at publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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