Excerpts from the Chicago Tribune:

It’s a good thing Clarendon Hills officials decided to keep their old ambulance as a backup when they purchased a new $259,000 vehicle in December 2014.

The 2015 Freightliner/Horton ambulance, delivered Dec. 11, has been out of service since Feb. 23 because of cracks on the inside wall, said Fire Chief Brian Leahy. It is expected to be out for repairs until late March.

“There was some major cracking, and we took it back to the dealer,” Leahy said.

The dealer is Foster Coach Sales, Inc., a Sterling, Ill., company that only sells ambulances. They sent the ambulance to the manufacturer, Horton Ambulance, in Ohio.

“On March 9, it’s going to be disassembled and then reassembled,” Leahy said. “It started with one crack and then five cracks a week later. The whole inside needs to be taken apart and put back together.”

While he is disappointed about having the ambulance out of service just months after it arrived, Leahy is confident everything will be fine in the end.

“It’s a glitch; I don’t think it’s a lemon,” Leahy said. “The problem is cosmetic, but it needs to be fixed.”

While the new ambulance is being fixed, Clarendon Hills has its 2008 ambulance back in service. The original plan was to trade in or sell the old ambulance. That process led to two verbal offers of $30,000 each.

However, Leahy said internal discussions led to the idea of keeping the 2008 ambulance as a reserve to be used when the new ambulance is temporarily out of service for regular maintenance, mechanical failure, or because of being involved in an accident. The fire department has traditionally operated with only one ambulance. A ladder truck is equipped with some medical gear, but cannot transport anyone needing to go to the hospital.

Leahy said the department would work without a backup ambulance while the new one is being fixed. However, Foster Coach Sales has offered to provide a loaner if needed.