N.O. fire fighters say broken-down trucks are public safety hazard
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - "Naturally, they get the call, and the guys run out, jump on the fire truck and it ain't moving. They had to let dispatch know they were out of service due to mechanical problems," Fire Fighters Union President Nick Felton said.
That fire call came in Friday around 2:30 a.m., and when Engine 38's fire truck wouldn't start, fire fighters from Engine 16 - about seven minutes away - had to answer the call.
Fire fighters from Engine 38 then decided to go to another station in New Orleans East to pick up a reserve truck.
"They got there, and guess what? That fire truck wouldn't start. From 2:30 last night until right now, so 12 hours, all the people in this area have not had fire protection like they should. That's a shame and it's dangerous," Felton said.
Felton said it's just one example of a much bigger problem across the city.
"It's a danger. Fire fighters have been working fires where the pumps have stopped. Imagine if this truck would have been at a fire and all of a sudden it broke down? It stopped pumping water? That would endanger fire fighters, but for some reason it's not on their priority list," Felton said.
"We will be going to bid next week to purchase new trucks," NOFD Chief Tim McConnell said.
McConnell said bidding will begin next week to purchase brand new trucks. He said those trucks will have to be custom built, and he admits it will likely take five to six years before a new fleet will be in service. He said it's unclear exactly how many new trucks will be purchased.
"Unfortunately, we're dealing with a fleet that we inherited that is in very, very poor condition. We do manage to do a good job, and I want to give thanks to the members of the maintenance division and members of the fire division that help out getting this done," McConnell said.
Felton, though, said fire fighters feel forgotten and they worry about their safety using the current equipment.
"We've got to think about where our priorities lie. I think we can do that, but we have to take the personality out of it. We've got to make sure that at the end of the day we keep the citizens safe and the fire fighters safe," Felton said.
Around 2:30 Friday afternoon, the fire house in the Freret neighborhood received a reserve fire truck and is now answering calls again.
The broken down truck had to be towed away.
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