Providence Finance Committee discusses aging fire trucks

Members of the Providence Finance Committee want to commit more money to replacing the aging Providence fire apparatus sooner rather than later.

 

By: Brittany Comak

Email: bcomak@abc6.com

Twitter: @BComakABC6

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Members of the Providence Finance Committee want to commit more money to replacing the aging Providence fire apparatus sooner rather than later.

During a Providence Finance Committee meeting Tuesday night, council members determined there’s no real system in place to know how much maintenance or money has been put into each truck, and there’s currently no formal five or ten year plan to replace the aging trucks.

The Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare bluntly assessed the state of the Providence fire apparatus at Tuesday’s meeting.

“So our fleet is old, no doubt,” Pare said.

“We have trucks that are literally older than the firefighters driving them,” Local 799 President Derek Silva said after the meeting.

According to Acting Fire Chief Pare, one of the engines is 21-years-old and a ladder truck is 27-years-old.

Keep in mind, the trucks are supposed to be replaced every 15 years.

“It’s a compounding effect of just negligence and ignoring the problem,” added Silva.

There were two recent incidents with the aging fire trucks that raised obvious red flags, which Pare addressed.

“Safety is foremost,” Pare said in his testimony to the committee. “And although it’s old, and I know one hasn’t started recently, and another lost its wheel, the mechanics constantly do preventative maintenance.”

Despite the problems, Pare told the Finance Committee that the city has no formal replacement plan to improve the situation.

He added that the city needs to accelerate the rate at which they’re replacing these trucks.

Tuesday night the Providence Firefighters Union submitted its own plan, which they claim would cost about $600,000 a year to lease vehicles over 15 years.

“The union put together basically a five year plan, to give to us,” said Councilman James Taylor. “That’s not the union’s job to do that it’s the fire chief’s job. So again I go back to say, we need a fire chief.”

There’s also no real system to keep track of how much money and maintenance has been put into each truck.

Silva submitted hand-written slips as an example of the only records kept.

“If they don’t adopt a plan now, it’s going to get to a point where we aren’t going to be able to respond to incidents,” said Silva.

Members of the Finance Committee said they want a comprehensive replacement and maintenance plan from the acting chief and the city’s chief financial officer.

“And whether it’s a piece meal funding of using master lease money, or city surplus money, or money out of the budget we’ll figure that out,” said Finance Committee Chairman Councilor John Igliozzi.

 

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Categories: News, Providence, Rhode Island