PITTSBURGH - Firefighters risk their lives for us – but are they in danger at their own fire stations?
A Target 11 investigation into filthy conditions at a local fire department is getting results.
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This started with an email from the wife of a city firefighter who said she was upset about the conditions firefighters were forced to live and work in at the station in East Liberty.
Target 11 investigator Rick Earle took the complaint straight to city officials and discovered the problem is more widespread.
“We understand that the environment as firefighters we work in is going to be dangerous, but we are not hoping that the environment we have to be in while at work on a day-to-day basis is also going to be as hazardous or dangerous,” said Firefighters Union President Ralph Sicuro.
Sources told Target 11 that firefighters put in multiple work orders for more than a year, but nothing was ever done.
So Earle took the photos straight to Mayor Bill Peduto.
“I think this is a very unsafe atmosphere. You are talking about the same area where you’re preparing your meals and you see mold,” Peduto said.
Target 11 discovered it’s not just a problem at the East Liberty station.
In South Oakland, there’s a leaking roof. There are sewage backups in Northview Heights. And there’s falling plaster in Hazelwood.
“It’s deplorable to see that our men and women have to work in these conditions,” Sicuro said.
Some firefighters say what’s even more upsetting is that the administration found money to build bike lanes and renovate the mayor’s office.
“I understand what they’re saying. But there are more problems than just this one situation,” Peduto said.
According to Peduto, city buildings have suffered from years of neglect. But for now, for the first time, the city is working on a facility management plan that will examine every city building and determine what should be sold, torn down or repaired.
“This didn’t happen overnight. It’s been years of neglect. The previous administration didn’t invest the money into the fire stations that was needed,” Sicuro said.
Firefighters have tried to fix some of the problems on their own, but they continue to get worse.
Peduto said public works crews have been out to look at the building and they will fix the kitchen.
We’ll keep you posted on the progress at all fire stations in the city.