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Fire department to request millions in capital improvements to replace aging equipment

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 11:19 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - During Tuesday’s Public Safety Meeting, the Richmond Fire Department presented its quarterly report to members of the Richmond City Council, which revealed that the department is experiencing several critical facilities and fleet issues.

Over the past three months, Fire Captain Steven Hall Jr. said the department has responded to more than 11,000 calls and worked five fatal fires, all while using aging equipment.

“What’s concerning is those numbers are higher than what they were pre-COVID levels,” said Hall.

The average age of the department’s engines is 11 years old, with one frontline engine and eight others over 23 years old. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire engines over 25 years old should be replaced.

“We’re going to be putting a large capital improvement request in to fix this issue because it has become so critical.”

The department says it will need over $31 million for 43 brand new fire engines to replace all trucks more than seven years old by 2024.

FY23/24 Budget Request Projections

  • FY 22: $2,922,000.00 Five (5) New Apparatus
  • FY 23: $17,934,173.70 Twenty-three (23) New Fire Apparatus
  • FY 24: $10,772,171.00 Fifteen (15) New Fire Apparatus

With current supply chain issues, the department says it can take up to two years to build these engines, which is why they are asking for funding right now.

“It’s an issue that we’re dealing with more and more because the trucks that we have now are no longer serviceable,” said Hall. “Parts are no longer available, and anytime something breaks, we’re having to have the part custom made, so it keeps the truck out longer, and it cost more money for the city.”

In addition, the department says the average age of its buildings is 54 years, and they are no longer designed for the modern-day fire service’s mission. Increased demand for logistical support has also rendered its current warehouse and asset management system inadequate.

According to the report, the department’s headquarters is a leased building and not designed for the department’s uses. The Fire Training Academy’s training tower has also been condemned, and the burn-building is no longer up to code, which could cause it to be permanently condemned.

Councilwoman Reva Trammel was present at the public safety meeting and said she would work with her colleagues to address the department’s concerns during the next city council meeting.

“I will work with the administration to ensure that there is adequate funding in the budget to purchase the needed new equipment for our firefighters that were discussed in the Public Safety meeting today,” said Trammel.

Come January, plans are underway to demolish the city’s oldest fire station to make way for a new state-of-the-art building.

The fire department says it will make a formal capital improvement request during the city council’s next meeting on Dec. 13.

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