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Hybrid vehicle: Greenville's new fire truck is an ambulance, too

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Captain Jesse Harris shows one of the paramedic functions of Greenville Fire/Rescue's new hybrid fire truck/ambulance vehicle on March 27, 2017.

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Beth Velliquette

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

It’s red, shiny, weighs more than 10 tons, puts out fires, carries the injured to the hospital and costs $800,000.

Greenville Fire/Rescue showed off its new custom-built fire truck/ambulance Monday at Station 3 at the corner of Charles Boulevard and Red Banks Road.

“It’s a very special order,” Chief Eric Griffin said about the truck designed and built by Pierce Manufacturing. 

While it looks like a regular fire truck, it has an ambulance module in it just behind the front seats where paramedics can treat a patient while en route to the hospital. 

Seven members of Greenville Fire/Rescue’s Apparatus Committee, led by Capt. Steve Nichols, worked with engineers at Pierce Manufacturing in Appleton, Wisc., to design a truck that would fit Greenville’s special needs.

“They’re right there working with them, and it takes a lot of time, experience and technical ability,” Griffin said. 

Most cities have separate fire and rescue divisions, but Greenville is unique because it provides both EMS and fire service, Griffin said. Every firefighter is trained both as a firefighter and at least as an EMT,  and about 85 percent of the calls it responds to are EMS calls.

For an EMS call, generally, Greenville sends an ambulance and an SUV that serves as a support vehicle, but sometimes all the ambulances are busy, so the new fire truck will be able to serve as an ambulance or be available as a fire truck, Griffin said.

For example, in the case of a motor vehicle crash with injuries, usually fire trucks and an ambulance go to the scene, so the new truck would be one of the fire trucks that responds. If there is need for another ambulance, it already will be there in the form of the hybrid truck.

“It will be able to do both,” Griffin said. “That’s a very big cost savings for the city.”

Once Station 7 is completed off of Fire Tower Road, the new rig will be moved there, where it should suit the needs of the new station. It will provide the same level of service and cut down on response times to calls, Griffin said.

A standard fire truck typically costs about $800,000 to $1 million, and a fully equipped ambulance costs about $275,000, Griffin said. This specially designed truck can serve both purposes and will save the city money, he said.

The ambulance module has all the same capabilities of a regular ambulance except it can only carry one patient, Griffin said.

The truck is fully rated for fighting fires, has hoses and pumps and carries 500 gallons of water, Griffin said.

Greenville Fire/Rescue owns another unique truck stationed north of the Tar River. It is more ambulance than fire truck, and it carries less water than a standard truck.

Griffin believes the new truck is only the second one on the East Coast, and Pierce Manufacturing will be using it as a model for the new type of hybrid truck.

Contact Beth Velliquette at bvelliquette@reflector.com or at 252-329-9566. 

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