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Salt Lake City Fire debuts new wheelchair lifts on two vehicles

Salt Lake City Fire has installed two wheelchair lifts to help take motorized wheelchairs to the hospital. Photo: Kelli Pierce

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Fire Department has installed wheelchair lifts on two of its vehicles to help people with disabilities during emergencies.

It is one of the first departments in the country to do so.

Chief Karl Lieb says they usually had to leave those 200lb. wheelchairs behind when taking disabled people to the hospital because those machines were too heavy.

“We need to give them peace of mind that their source of mobility, their source of independence, is safe and will be there when they leave the hospital,” Lieb says.

It was an experience Sarah Benj, ADA coordinator for Mayor Jackie Biscupski’s office, recently had.

“I went to the hospital a few months ago, and I needed to get transport there. My chair was left at home, and I went to the hospital without the chair,” Benj says.

Benj did some research and helped convince city leaders to install the wheelchair lifts, which cost around $1,500 total.

One vehicle will be stationed on the east side of the city and the other near the airport.