Clifton, New Jersey, a city of 86,607 residents, will now have a third permanent ambulance in rotation, and, if necessary, crews to be paid with overtime funds.
The council authorized the use of overtime to fund the Fire Department personnel who will operate the ambulance.
Councilman Bill Gibson, who said he has been waiting for years to see a third ambulance in continuous operation, proposed the measure. “It’s way overdue,” he said after colleagues approved the plan.
The city relied on mutual aid from neighboring towns in the past when both ambulances were out and a third was needed. That should happen only when a fire like at the Marcal paper plant in Englewood Park breaks out, Gibson said.
In recent years the city has been awarded two Staffing For Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants totaling more than $2.1 million that helped add about 15 firefighters to the department. The grants were to be used, in part, to get the third ambulance in the rotation.
The use of overtime personnel to staff the ambulance is expected to be a temporary solution until five new firefighters are added to the roster of 143 in March.
The newest hires completed training in December and are working on their emergency medical training, acting Fire Chief Frank Prezioso said.
The third ambulance will bring the required number of firefighters who must be on duty per shift to 28. A typical shift consists of seven engines, each staffed with three firefighters; one deputy chief; and two medical technicians per ambulance.
Ambulances are dispatched from Station 6 on Van Houten Avenue, Station 3 on Mahar Avenue and Station 4 on Main Avenue. Typically, the Fire Department responds to about 12,000 calls per year, Chief Prezioso said, but he did not have information on how many of those are for emergency medical technicians.
Councilman Gibson said once the third permanent ambulance is in place, the city needs to work on getting a fourth one that would operate out of Station 5 on Brighton Road.
Councilman Gibson added: “This is Clifton. We take care of our own.”