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Retired Palos ambulance gets new life as Chicago Bears tailgate truck and roadside rescue vehicle

Chris Faltin’s new vehicle comes with all the bells and whistles. It also has an outdoor emergency lighting system. And with all the space inside, it’s well suited for its next incarnation and at least one trip to Soldier Field, where Faltin plans to use it for tailgating at this Sunday’s Bears game.

“I enjoy watching the game in warm weather,” Faltin said. “This will be the perfect vehicle for it.”

He purchased the 2005 International Road Rescue 4300 ambulance Sept. 13 for his towing company, paying $10,000 for it after hearing the Palos Fire Protection District posted it on Municibid, an online site that auctions government surplus items.

His Mokena-based towing company plans to gut it out and then use it to help heavy duty vehicles such as trucks broken down on the road.

“The unit will be loaded with oil dry and other adsorbents, cones, tools, air compressors, things like that,” he said.

The Palos fire department removed all of its logos as part of the process of preparing the vehicle for sale, but the emergency lights remain.

Officials with the auction company have noticed a spike in people purchasing old ambulances, for both work and pleasure.

Faltin’s company, Illinois Fleet Service, has 11 vans he deploys for various emergencies, along with six tow trucks. This month’s purchase is his first ambulance.

“The main issue here is, two years ago you could buy a van for thirty thousand; now they are sixty thousand and not available,” he said.

The company has been providing roadside emergency service for 20 years and towing for about six years.

The online auction site Municibid was founded in 2006 as an outlet for government agencies to sell surplus items.

Ambulances are becoming popular purchases, according to a representative from online auction site Municibid, an outlet used by public agencies such as the Palos Fire Protection District to sell old equipment.
(Henderson Public Relations)

Daily Southtown


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The website last week listed three items for sale in Illinois — a set of portable jacks, miscellaneous truck and bus parts and a set of rusted out school-like lockers from the Chicago Transit Authority.

Sophie Eden, director of marketing for Municibid, said police cars are the most popular vehicles sold on the site.

“The Crown Victoria is a favorite but also people like the Dodge Chargers and the Ford Explorers too,” Eden said. “Ambulances have been gaining popularity the past couple years. People seem to be buying them and overhauling them to become recreation vehicles.”

Eden believes the pandemic as well as the high cost of RVs has made ambulances a more appealing option for those wanting to explore the U.S.

“They have plenty of storage space,” she said. “It has cabinets and shelves and plenty of power too. It even has a sink to hook up to water. Just add a minifridge, microwave and bed and you are pretty much set.”

Municibid, based in Pennsylvania, charges a buyer’s fee to the winning bidder. Most of the money returned back to a government agency is used to buy new equipment, Eden said.

Joseph Ruzich is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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