Investigates

Channel 11 investigation into broken fire trucks prompts public hearing

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Fire Chief Darryl Jones confirmed what Channel 11 reported earlier this month about the aging fleet of fire trucks.

And he didn’t mince words during a public hearing at City Council.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE >>> City of Pittsburgh forced to purchase used fire trucks, respond to fires in SUV

“We are in dire straits,” said Chief Jones.

Jones is talking about the fleet of pumper and ladder trucks that his fellow firefighters rely on every day to keep people safe.

“Our fleet is aging, and the maintenance is becoming more and more expensive. and our call volume is increasing,” said Jones.

“Along with the fire trucks that Mr. Earle so poignantly pointed out several weeks ago,” said Pittsburgh City Councilman Anthony Coghill.

Coghill was referring to our investigation that revealed the city has had to purchase two used fire trucks from local volunteer companies just to get by.

One is a 25-year-old pumper truck just purchased from Emsworth Borough.

“I’ve seen the used truck. Mr. Rick Earle showed me the used truck and it’s 25 years old and it’s just not acceptable,” said Coghill.

And we also discovered that at three stations during the past several months, a pumper truck went down, and there were no spares, so firefighters were forced to respond in an SUV and wait for the closest pumper from the closest nearby station.

“That’s 8 days that there wasn’t a fire engine in the firehouse.  8 days that the residents of Bloomfield-Lawrenceville were without adequate fire protection,” said Tim Leech, the Vice President of the Pittsburgh Fire Fighters’ Union.

And while it hasn’t comprised safety yet, the Chief is clearly concerned.

“To date, no, there hasn’t been anything. On the flip side of that, it just means the numbers are going against us.  We assume the law of averages will go against us if we don’t do something,” said Chief Jones.

And Coghill said it’s not only fire trucks but police, emergency medical services, and public works vehicles as well, and he said there’s only one solution.

“We really have to get on a steady diet of buying new vehicles and retiring them,” said Coghill.

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