LACONIA — A private company has withdrawn its proposal to run the city’s ambulance service, City Manager Scott Myers said Monday.
The decision by Brewster Ambulance Company means the city fire department will continue to run the ambulances.
Myers said he received a letter from Mark Brewster, president and chief operating officer of the company, saying it was withdrawing its proposal because it didn’t want to compete with firefighters over who would run the service.
“We will never compete with any fire department,” Brewster said in the letter. “It would be detrimental to the values our company was founded on.”
In April, responding to a city request for proposals, Brewster submitted a plan that Myers described as being “responsive to the needs of the city and comprehensive in terms of detail and qualifications.”
Myers said it warranted additional review and vetting by the Laconia City Council, which had planned to take up the matter at a hearing on June 18.
Fire Chief Ken Erickson has consistently said the ambulance service should remain the responsibility of the fire department. He said that the Brewster proposal was a good one, but that his department does everything the private company proposed.
Erickson said that, even though 70 percent of emergency calls to his department are for medical runs, the city will continue to need its full complement of 40 firefighters to handle structure fires.
The city’s request for proposals to run the ambulance service came after Lakes Region General Hospital decided to end its financial support for the system.
Erickson said that, even with the loss of the hospital’s support, the city’s costs would not go up as long as it can bill users $1 million a year for ambulance services. He expressed confidence the city could reach that threshold.
Meanwhile, Brewster said last week that he was operating under what turned out to be a false impression — that the city had already decided to privatize the service. He said he would withdraw his proposal rather than compete with firefighters for the job.
Myers responded that it should not be considered a competition, so there was no reason for Brewster to withdraw from consideration.