According to information sent from Guilford County Emergency Services Director Jim Albright to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, the Emergency Services Department has been unable to get all the auto chassis it needs – which are used to build emergency vehicles by adding the box unit on top of the frames and drivetrains.

Albright stated in a memo to the board that chassis availability has “affected the county’s Emergency Services vehicle plan significantly.”

One line of chassis popularly used for Emergency Services vehicles  across the country includes the Ford F-550, F-450, or F350 chassis – or a RAM 4500 or 5500 chassis.

And it has in fact been Ford chassis that the county has had trouble acquiring.

Even those the county did receive came very late.

“Ford only fulfilled three chassis for Guilford County in Fiscal Year 23,” Albright wrote in the memo to the commissioners, “and they were delayed on delivery (literally arriving the last week of the fiscal year). Concurrently, the costs of new ambulance boxes have dramatically increased from $146,500 to greater than $230,000. As such, the Department has requested to purchase a total of four new ambulance boxes on the March 21, 2024 agenda, and on this [new] agenda item [slated for Thursday, April 4] is requesting to remount existing boxes on five chassis (which were purchased direct from Ford on a previous agenda).”

It’s not clear if the shortage of equipment from Ford is a continuation of supply chain issues created during the pandemic, or caused by newly increased demand, or due to other factors.

Emergency Services has worked with the Guilford County Purchasing Department “to define the scope of the remount process” and has secured pricing with Northwestern Emergency Vehicles in West Jefferson, North Carolina.

The price of $111,962 per vehicle means that Guilford County will be spending $559,810 for this particular workaround.

The boxes will be placed on the chassis and given a new paint job, new lights and trim and a new suspension system.  Floors and upholstery work will also be conducted.

The commissioners are expected to approve the Emergency Services workaround on April 4.