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Cincinnati to spend $1M in stimulus on 3 new emergency vehicles

Becca Costello

The Cincinnati Fire Department will likely get a new fire truck and two new ambulances ahead of schedule. City officials announced a plan Tuesday to spend $1.1 million on the equipment.

Chief Michael Washington says the department's budget is in crisis; a staff shortage has significantly increased the overtime budget, and capital projects like fire station and fleet replacements are behind schedule.

"This is a step towards making us whole," Washington said. "It's going to take some time to implement the plan."

Some vehicles in the fleet are more than 20 years old. Union President Matt Alter says the purchase will go a long way toward updating the department's aging fleet.

"Standing behind us is one of the oldest trucks in our fleet; a couple more years that actually would qualify for classic car license plates," Alter said. "It's actually older than quite a few of our new firefighters that are on the job."

The purchase would be in addition to the department's regular budget. The money would come from last year's federal stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Mayor Aftab Pureval says the money was previously allocated for a purpose that has since been deemed ineligible.

Council is expected to approve the purchase in the next two weeks. Public Safety and Governance Committee Chair Scotty Johnson says it's a critical investment for the department's aging fleet.

"We want to make sure our first responders are being equipped with every necessary tool to make sure that we here in the city of Cincinnati are one of the safest cities in America," Johnson said.

Once the order is placed, a new fire truck can take up to 18 months to complete.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.