Fire departments all throughout the country are feeling the pain of a national ambulance shortage.

The shortage started during the Covid-19 pandemic when chassis manufacturing slowed down. A chassis is the base frame of a motor vehicle.

A lot of these ambulance shortages started around the time of the pandemic,” Golder Ranch Fire District Deputy Chief Adam Jarrold said. “A lot of the global trade kind of shut down, so it got tough to get anything from ambulances to consumer electronics.

Tucson Fire Department Chief Chuck Ryan echoed Jarrold and said chassis manufacturers are struggling with labor, parts and supplies.

This is definitely the first time weve seen something this significant. We see the shortages at all levels, Jarrold said.

However, the Tucson Fire Department, Golder Ranch Fire District and Northwest Fire District have all been planning ahead and representatives from all of the departments said they have enough units.

We are maintaining our service delivery and we are not being hampered by anything today, said Scott Draper who is the Assistant Chief of Essential Services for Northwest Fire District.

Weve done a lot of pre-planning with our purchasing, Ryan said. Were ahead of the curve in terms of ordering.

Moving forward we do recognize that these shortages exist, so it just changes our game plan to where were going to start ordering a lot sooner before we need them, Jarrold said.

The fire departments have to plan ahead more than before with increasing lead times needed in purchasing ambulances.

Ryan said, Right now the lead time for an ambulance is about two years, whereas a year ago it was 18 months, a year before that it was probably nine to twelve months.

However, all of the departments representatives reiterated that people in the Tucson area have nothing to worry about in regards to the shortage.

Currently, the public has nothing to worry about with Northwest fire, our response times are not being affected by this, Draper said.