Covington (OH) Firefighters Concerned with Old Fire Apparatus

Aging fire trucks in Covington have firefighters concerned they won’t be able to get to certain areas of the city or upper floors of buildings in time.

Jimmy Adams, president of the Covington Firefighters Union Local 38, painted a bleak picture for the Covington City Commission Tuesday night of a fleet of old fire trucks they patch together with obsolete parts.

Two recent breakdowns have created gaps in fire coverage, Adams said.

A broken crankshaft took out the department’s 21-year-old ladder truck for the downtown corridor, Adams said. That also means firefighters will have trouble reaching someone living 24 feet off the ground in the central business district.

Another truck broke down Tuesday, leaving Latonia without a fire truck for several hours until the department could borrow one from the county, he said.

The average age of a Covington fire truck is 15 years, with many so obsolete they can’t get parts for them, Adams said.

“When they start breaking and the shop can’t get parts and we can’t get them fixed, people are going to have to start doing without fire protection because we don’t have anything to give them,” Adams said.

The $1.2 million cost of a ladder truck is a challenge for cities like Covington that have tight budgets and rising costs.

The city can call on ladder trucks from nearby cities of Newport and Crescent Springs, but these trucks don’t fit through some of the narrow corridors in downtown Covington, he said.

The fire department has tried to find money where it can. The Covington Commission Tuesday night received a $26,000 check from Covington resident and insurance executive John Topits to upgrade the fire department’s equipment.

Topits has made previous donations to put lights on the Roebling Suspension Bridge and provide body cameras to the Covington Police Department.

His latest donation will buy gauges to check water pressure on hydrants, new fire hose nozzles that can provide a greater stream of water under low water pressure, and “man-in-machine” kits that will help cut into objects for rescue efforts.

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