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Maricopa Fire/Medical Department

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.

Firefighters knock down a vehicle fire on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. Photo by Michelle Chance

Fire crews responded to a fully engulfed camper trailer Thursday afternoon on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway about one mile east of White and Parker Road.

The roadside blaze closed portions of the highway in both directions for more than an hour. The Maricopa Police Department re-opened the road at approximately 3:40 p.m.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, said MPD Patrol Officer Jeff Brooks.

The camper trailer was reportedly being hauled east toward Casa Grande. Maricopa Fire/Medical Department and Ak-Chin Fire Department responded to the scene.

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Photo by Mason Callejas

Members of the media were introduced to the Maricopa Fire/Medical Department’s latest major upgrade to their fleet Tuesday. MFMD’s public information officer, Capt. Brad Pitassi, gave tours of their new 100-foot Pierce ladder truck which serves not only as a multifaceted tool for fighting fires, but also for responding to medical emergencies. The truck, Pitassi said, which helps the department better serve the community, should be part of the MFMD fleet for 15 years or more.


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Photo by Dean Crandall

American Legion Post 133 will host its annual appreciation barbecue for first responders Sept. 9 at the Maricopa Veterans Center.

First Responders Appreciation Day will celebrate local law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical technicians from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Basically this is to give back to those who have given so much for us and put their lives on the line for us. It’s our way of saying, ‘Thank you,’” said John Anderson, post service officer and director of the American Legion Riders Post 133.

Families of veterans and first responders are also welcome to attend, he said.

The post placed donation jars in various stores throughout the city two months ago to raise funds for the cost of the event.

“Thank you to the community for the donations that they have already provided to us,” Anderson said. “One hundred percent of the proceeds are going to First Responders Day.”

The Maricopa Veterans Center is at 44240 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

For more information call 303-589-9146.

Engine 575 crew (from left) Anthony Stimac, Josh Eads, Capt. Chris Bolinger and Jimmy Herta with Zoe and Zolee Hicks. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Figuring they were old enough to comprehend the meaning, Maricopa mom Sherese Hicks brought her twin daughters to Maricopa Fire Station 575 on Saturday to have them meet the first responders who helped bring them into the world.

Zoe and Zolee, now 4, were born under extreme circumstances Feb. 27, 2013. Even before going into labor, Hicks knew the girls were not situated properly, and family members were telling her to prepare for a caesarian section delivery.

The girls did not wait around for that.

As Sherese was being driven by her uncle and aunt, it was clear she needed immediate help. The crew of Engine 575 met them at the Circle K at the corner of John Wayne Parkway and Smith-Enke Road, where firefighter/paramedic Josh Eads helped Hicks deliver the first twin. To his surprise, the girl came out feet-first.

After eight years on the job, it was Eads’ first baby delivery. His response was, “What is that?”

The baby was not only breech but also had the umbilical cord around her neck. Eads’ training had covered more typical birth scenarios, but he and the crew were able to sort out the situation safely and get Hicks ready for transport to the hospital.

The second baby was born – again feet first – en route to the Chandler Regional Medical Center.

“Typically, with a breech kid, we’re not going to deliver them in the field,” Eads said. “The idea is to give them that supportive care – IVs, fluids, medications if they need it – and then get them to the professional to do it.”

Eads said he was calm walking into the situation, both because of the consistent training the crew gets for emergencies and because of the naivete of never having the experience of delivering a baby. Hicks, who has three older children, was calm for a different reason.

“I wasn’t worried because I knew that it’s all part of God’s plan. I knew that it would be fine,” she said, including the firefighters in her faith. “They had to have been a part of God’s plan. For them not to ever have delivered a breech baby and [Eads] not to ever deliver a baby, it was like, ‘Oh, my goodness.’ It had to be.”

At the reunion Saturday, Zoe and Zolee hugged the members of the Engine 575 crew and received child-friendly goodies in return. The team on Engine 575 that night was Eads, Capt. Chris Bolinger, engineer Jimmy Huerta and firefighter Anthony Stimac.

“Any time there’s more than one baby, it’s a high-risk delivery. In this case the babies were born breech,” MFMD spokesman Brad Pitassi said. “We train for worst-case scenarios, and this was a worst-case scenario … with the best outcome we could possibly imagine.

“Paramedics that responded that day as well as paramedics on the ambulance, the EMTs that assisted – this was a team effort, and everybody performed just like they’re trained to do in responding to such emergencies.”

Bolinger said the crew looks forward to continuing the relationship with the family and watching the girls grow up.