Richmond Fire's aging fleet causing problems - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Richmond Fire's aging fleet causing problems

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Richmond firefighters contacted NBC12 worried the department does not have the best equipment to keep the city safe during emergencies.

The concerns surround the aging and in some cases decaying fleet at the Richmond Fire Department. We've learned the majority of fire apparatus are over 15 years old, with some at the 21 year mark. Firefighters say it causes problems on a daily basis.

"We are in a place now where I call it dire," said Keith Andes with the firefighters' union.

We've uncovered at any given time 35 to 40 percent of the department's fleet are under repairs. A list of the department's issues cites one engine, which has been out of service for more than a year.

"If you purchase a car, do you want it to stay in the shop all the time or do you want to be able to drive it," Andes asked. "So that's the dilemma that we're in now."

Crews are fixing problems like water leaks, damage to ladders and soot issues.

"It's going to be at a point where there may not be enough equipment to put in each station and I say that is not a joke, it may become a reality," Andes added. "When these pieces are out of service, it's the citizens of Richmond that are losing."

We brought the concerns to department leaders, who admit this is an ongoing issue.

"We've asked a lot out of those apparatus," Lt. Robbie Hagaman said.

In the last two years, RFD has purchased ten new units and is getting ready for two more. 

We wanted to know what else can be done to ease the problems. Hagaman explains the department has a specifically assigned logistics officer who monitors the apparatus and communicates with the shops.

The public needs to keep in mind not only do these trucks need to pass standard tests, but also the inspections associated with being emergency vehicles.

"These are the trucks we have," Hagaman stated. "I think that every department wishes that they could have brand new trucks to come to work and get on with the latest bells and whistles and certainly we're trying to do our part."

Like most things in government and business, though, they have to work to overcome the bottom line.

"The administration is working with the city's administration to lay out a plan to replace some of our aging fleet in the years to come," Hagaman added.

This problem didn't happen overnight and officials say it won't be fixed overnight. The solutions they are trying to implement will take time to catch up.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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