Connecticut firefighters focus on fleet maintenance

Connecticut firefighters focus on fleet maintenance

Firefighters in Stamford, Connecticut, are increasingly speaking out about the state of the department's fire trucks, which they say have been breaking down at a higher rate and should be replaced with better, more cost-efficient equipment, the Stamford Advocate reports. 

According to the media outlet, the Stamford Professional Fire Fighters Association said it will use the commemoration of the city's devastating 2006 fire as a way to push for better equipment and a more modernized fleet, which would offset municipal maintenance costs, the firefighters argue. Brendan Keatley, president of the association, stated that about 33 percent of the department's trucks have had to be replaced by vehicles leased from departments in nearby cities. The group has even had to dip into a fleet of much older vehicles to have enough on call when a current truck must be taken out of commission. 

"There have been significant fire events in the city and we are trying to get the message out to people who make decisions that the city needs more fire equipment," he said.

Keatley added that as the fleet gets older, it will only worsen with age. This has led to breakdowns that could have serious outcomes if they happen in the face of an emergency. To lower the likelihood of such a catastrophic event, some firehouses in the department have taken to extreme measures. For example, the Woodside Fire House has a truck that was purchases in 2002, and recently had to be taken apart so that rescue truck number one could used its hoses, ladders and other items that were malfunctioning. The switch will put the truck back into service after sitting idle for months. 

Other ramshackle equipment includes plywood boxes that are used to carry life-saving products, which significantly lowers the speed of rescue, they said. The Woodside station has also had to switch out one of it's fire engines with a rescue truck, while the Washington Boulevard station is using an engine that belongs to the Glenbrook station. Even this truck is having to undergo repairs. 

"Our goal is to protect the citizens of the city, but that goal is being undermined by not having the proper equipment available," Keatley said.

According to the news source, Fire Chief Antonio Conte has agreed that the repairs should be at the top of the department's list, as the many trucks that are sitting idle are not only costing the tax payers money, but they're also jeopardizing any fire rescue mission that is needed. 

In Pennsylvania, similar conditions have been reported in area fire departments, but the town has started to buy new equipment. According to the Pottstown Mercury, the new truck cost about $669,000, about 90 percent of which was paid up front in exchange for a discount.

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