Evanston aldermen voted Monday to approve the conversion of a retired city ambulance to become a dedicated underwater rescue response vehicle for the Fire Department.

The roughly $20,000 cost of the conversion is to be paid for by the foreign fire tax on fire insurance policies bought from out-of-state companies.


Fire Chief Brian Scott says the underwater rescue team now stores its equipment in Squad 21, a multi-purpose heavy rescue vehicle shared by all five department special rescue teams.

But as the amount of equipment for each team has increased over the years, it’s left the dive team without enough room to store its gear in a ready position, slowing responses to emergency situations, Scott says.

Scott says the cost of the converstion work — largely to add new aluminum storage boxes, brackets and cabinetry to the old ambulance — is less than a fifth the cost of a new rescue vehicle, and that the old ambulance would probably bring no more than $15,000 at auction.

He says the underwater rescue team responded to a total of eight incidents in 2015.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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