The Shelby Township Fire Department is getting a new set of wheels.
The township board approved Fire Chief James Swinkowski's request Tuesday to purchase a fully equipped 2013 Ford Expedition 4x4 SSV (Special Service Vehicle) to the tune of $28,915. This vehicle will be used by the fire chief on a day-to-day basis and serve as a command vehicle at emergency scenes.
The new vehicle will feature a mounted radio, exterior warning lights, fire department decals and space inside for equipment and a command board – used to keep track of firefighters at the scene of an emergency.
"Over the last few years, we have identified a growing need for this type of vehicle," Swinkowski wrote in his request to the board. "On multiple occasions over the past year, chiefs from another community brought a similarly outfitted vehicle to fires in community, which was very beneficial to our command officers and just reinforced our need for it."
When former Chief Gene Shepherd gave up his driving privileges in April 2012, his Fusion, which was due to be replaced in 2013, was sold.
Originally intending to replace the chief's vehicle with another Fusion, Swinkowski said increased prices on that model and demonstrations of the Expedition's increased capabilities lead him to request the purchase of an SUV instead.
While he will be assigned the new vehicle at this time, Swinkowski said that could change in the future.
"If we get our manpower to a level where I can get my battalion chiefs into a supervisory role 100 percent of the time, the keys would be handed over that quick," he said. "This is for the department, not for me."
The Fusion that Swinkowski is currently driving will be handed over to the department's new chief in training.