Petersburg fire chief address concerns with fleet, staffing

Fire department has 4 operational fire engine with 1 engine ladder in need of repair
Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 6:55 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2022 at 6:56 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Friday afternoon, the Petersburg Department responded to a tweet posted Monday about the status of its engines and equipment.

The post read that the department is down to just three working fire engines to service the city. Fire Chief Tina Watkins, however, said that the information was false and came from a social media account that is not officially associated with the city or the fire department.

According to Watkins, the department’s full fleet consists of four fire engines and one engine ladder to operate the 23 square miles that make up the city. Three of those engines were purchased new in 2017.

Watkins confirms the engine ladder is in the repair shop, however she did not disclose how long it’s been there. She said that supply chain issues due to the pandemic have slowed down the delivery of parts.

In the meantime, Watkins says the city is also relying on mutual aid agreements with surrounding localities.

NBC12 also asked the department about its current staffing numbers. At this time, the department says some firefighters left Petersburg for higher-paying jobs, but the department is currently recruiting with the focus of hiring people from within the city.

In an effort to retain staff, Watkins says the city gave firefighters a 5% salary increase that went into effect on July 1.

Though at this time Watkins declined to go on camera, she provided NBC12 with the following statement:

“The City values the safety and well-being of members of the fire department. Three new fire trucks were purchased in 2017 and we will continue to upgrade and keep equipment repaired as quickly as possible. The Petersburg Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services is operational with no expected lapse in service. Petersburg has mutual aid firefighting and support agreements with surrounding localities. When assistance is needed by any of these localities to fight fires, aid is always available. The City is in no danger of not being able to respond to emergency needs.”

The city’s human resources website has jobs posted for certified fire applicants. It will soon have jobs posted for applicants as entry-level firefighters. The city will provide training for those in entry-level positions.

If you are interested in applying for an opening in the Petersburg fire Department click HERE.

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