“Petersburg’s citizens are at risk”: Firefighter’s Association calls on city, dept to repair ladder truck
PFD says ladder truck repairs have been delayed due to supply chain issues
PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - In Petersburg, city firefighters are speaking out against the city and the fire department, demanding action to get the station’s only ladder truck up and running again.
For the past several weeks, the Professional Fire Fighters Association of Petersburg (IFFA-2773) has been taking their concerns to their social media pages about what they say has been a delayed response in getting critical equipment for fighting fires operational again.
The city fire association reposted another minute-long video showcasing IFFA-2773 president James Vick detailing the importance of the department’s ladder truck.
“Without the availability of this truck, Petersburg’s residents are at risk,” Vick said in the video. “For several weeks, the city’s primary aerial ladder truck has been out of service due to mechanical problems.”
According to the city and the fire chief, supply chain issues have kept that ladder truck in the shop. They say mutual aid services will be enough to assist the entire city, but Vick says relying on mutual aid to help fight fires is reckless.
“Petersburg’s citizens are at risk because their firefighters don’t have access to ladders capable of reaching hundreds of elevated spaces across the city,” Vick said.
According to Vick, the ladder truck needing repair can reach over 100 feet, four times higher than the department’s other trucks. The association president says this is critical when battling fires that may happen in highrise buildings or apartments.
Vick says the ladder truck was purchased over 15 years ago. He wants the city and department to repair or replace the ladder truck quickly.
The communications manager for the city of Petersburg and the Fire Chief said the department is not officially associated with the Firefighters Association. Still, in a separate conversation, Chief Tina Watkins said despite supply chain issues slowing down the repairs, there has been no lapse in service to the community.
NBC12 requested a comment from the city and the fire department regarding the association’s social media posts, but neither the city nor the department specifically addressed the video at this time.
The city and the fire department have not disclosed the specific issues with the ladder truck or how much repairs are estimated to cost.
According to Petersburg’s recently passed operating budget for the fiscal year 2022-23, the fire department was given over $7.1 million. Of that amount, the department allotted more than $150,000 for repairs—the amount allocated from the previous year. $5,000 was also set aside for machinery repairs, $2,000 more than the city set aside the last year.
Over the past five years, Petersburg’s fire department operating budget has steadily increased, with the most significant jump occurring this year with the city adding $300,000 to the fire department.
The fire association says the cost to replace the ladder truck outright would be approximately $1 million. That far exceeds any budget item on the budget outside of salary and wages.
According to the city communications manager Joane Williams, Chief Watkins reached out to the repair shop Monday afternoon where the ladder is being housed but was not provided a hard update of when repairs would be completed.
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