Maricopa Fire/Medical crews help AMR personnel at an incident earlier this year. Photo by Michelle Chance

Ambulances housed in city fire stations have until the end of summer to vacate, a fire official confirmed this week.

Brady Leffler, chief of Maricopa Fire/Medical Department, said American Medical Response units in stations 571 and 574 will need to find a new home on or before July 31.

The issue revolves around unsuccessful contract and licensing negotiations.

Leffler said the private emergency response company paid $330 per month rent in a previous contract first drawn up in 2010 with Southwest Ambulance and then Rural Metro Ambulance before being bought out by AMR.

Before that contract expired in 2014, Leffler said he began designing a new agreement that would garner a “reasonable amount” for rent.

The city’s economic development team was recruited to analyze the fair market value of the space AMR uses inside MFMD. Leffler said he took the average rent cost per square foot in the city and reduced that figure by approximately 35 percent.

“I was going to charge them for one-third of the livable space and it came up to about $2,355 a month,” Leffler said. “(AMR) opted not to pay that.”

AMR did not respond to an interview request.

A person claiming to be an AMR employee wishing to remain anonymous said moving out of the fire stations would create increased response times to emergencies in Maricopa.

Leffler said he doesn’t think that will happen.

“(AMR) is still bound by the state standards and requirements so it should not affect the service one bit,” Leffer added.

Hosting ambulance units inside city fire stations is rare, Leffler said. With the exception of Gilbert, most other Valley fire departments don’t do it.

The City of Phoenix employs its own ambulances, he added.

It’s unknown where AMR will base its local units after July, but the company’s absence from the stations creates an opportunity for the department, Leffler said.

On the fire chief’s wish list are two additional fire trucks that would one day fill the vacancies previously occupied by AMR.

“We can’t afford to do that right now and it’s something we’ll be looking at down the road, but it sure gives us another option,” Leffler said.

Although a licensing rental agreement couldn’t be made, Leffler said he wants to get a service-based contract regarding logistics and transport with AMR in the future.

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