High gas costs affecting budgets for first responders

High gas costs affecting budgets for first responders
Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 3:44 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - It is getting pricey to fill up your tank, with some cars even hitting $100 at the pump. Now, imagine the price of having to fill up an almost 50 gallon tank. That is the realty at the Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad.

“Regardless of what the fuel price is, we still need to fill up our trucks and get out there and make sure that people are taken care of,” Doctor Harrison Brookeman with CARS said Thursday, June 16.

Ambulances hold about 48 gallons of diesel fuel.

“We have our own diesel tank here at the station, so we’re not dealing with regular consumer prices. But still, it’s costing us over $5 a gallon of diesel as of the last delivery,” Brookeman said. “We’ll have to dig a little bit into our saving, that’s really going to hurt kind of the end of year line.”

And it isn’t just driving: “One of the difficult things is that when we park our trucks at the hospital or on scene, we have to keep them running. We have a lot of sensitive electronics, as well as climate control for our medications that has to stay on,” Brookeman said.

The 50-person staff at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is working to adjust in the face of rising fuel costs.

“I think in this last year, I predicted that we’re going to drive right about 1.2 million miles,” Chief Deputy Major Michael LaCasse said. “When you break that down and you figure an average car for us is getting at 18-19-20 miles per gallon, you’re looking at us buying 48,000 gallons of gasoline in a year’s time.”

While the sheriff’s office gets gas at a cheaper rate because it is local government, there is still an impact on the budget.

“My gas budget has gone up probably 40% just in this last year,” LaCasse said.

He says the Orange County deputies have to fill up every week.

Charlottesville is also seeing a strain on its budget: Fleet Manager Harold Young says they are at 99% of their fuel budget with only a month to go in the fiscal year.

“Fuel prices have gone beyond what our projection was. So we’re going to have to come up with additional funding, and we’ve been working on that currently,” Young said.

Charlottesville is considering ways to save on gas going into the new fiscal year. These ideas include idling policies and looking at more fuel efficient vehicles.

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