Union Leaders Warn Safety Concerns with Lack of D.C. Fire Apparatus

D.C. Fire and EMS has been operating the past few months with half of number of ladder trucks it needs to keep the city safe.

“We need to have the appropriate vehicles and tools to do our jobs. And right now, we don’t,” said D.C. firefighter and Local 36 union representative, Dabney Hudson.

“Yes,” he stated. “This could impact public safety.”

This past summer, D.C. Fire launched a fleet wide inspection of its ladder trucks — the first in years. Seven failed and were pulled from service. Due to a lack of maintenance, the ladders rusted and need to be sent back to the manufacturer in Green Bay for repairs.

D.C. Ladder Truck 9 is one of the first to be sent to Wisconsin. The truck is currently parked at a garage in Hagerstown as it awaits shipment. A July 31 inspection obtained by ABC7 News for Ladder 9 shows it failed on 17 points. The violations included broken wires, broken bolts and corrosion. But up until the day of the inspection that truck was in service.

Eighteen of D.C.’s 28 ladder trucks have recently been out of service — and response times reflect a decimated fleet.

At full force, D.C. Fire should have 16 ladder trucks in service and five in reserve — for a total of 21. But over the last six months, the department has had as few as 10 usable trucks.

Eugene Jones is the interim D.C. fire chief. He took over the ailing department in November of 2013.

“I would say yes,” responded Jones when asked if regular maintenance is now being done on the trucks.

A November 2013 audit slams D.C. Fire and EMS for not having a preventative maintenance plan. Jones says, during his short tenure, he has instituted a regular in-station maintenance program. More mechanics are being hired and new inspection standards have been adopted.

The chief also said within the next month, the department will receive six new ladder trucks. In the meantime, neighboring fire departments have been alerted of D.C.’s lack of equipment – just in case.

For more information, view wjla.com

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