Government Fleet Top News

Fire Department Equipment Shortage Forces City to Use Pickup Truck

July 20, 2005

WATERBURY, CT – An equipment shortage forced the fire department to temporarily replace Engine 11 with a pickup truck for much of the last week, according to the Waterbury Republican-American newspaper. The 1988 American-LaFrance pump engine that serves Town Plot and the densely populated Brooklyn neighborhood was undergoing repairs to its brakes. "From time to time this is going to happen, at least in the fire department, because we have a shortage of spare apparatus," said Fire Chief Michael Maglione. The city has only one spare fire engine, and that extra vehicle had been sent to replace Engine 6, which also is undergoing repairs. The city now has one new fire engine on order and plans to solicit bids on another in the fall, but it can take up to a year for a fire engine to be delivered after its ordered. Once those engines arrive, Maglione said the department will have sufficient spare engines to cover stations whose vehicles are out for repair. Fire union President Daniel French said the pace of vehicle replacement is far short of what it should be. In 1990, Engine 11 firefighters Heriberto Rivera and Howard Hughes were killed when the brakes failed on their truck and it slammed into a tree on Highland Avenue en route to what turned out to be a false alarm. In the aftermath of that fatal accident, the city committed to buying a new engine every two years to make sure there were sufficient backups in the fleet to see to repairs. The city hasn't taken delivery on a new engine since 2001. A new ladder truck was added to the fleet in June.

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