Lincoln Firefighters Blame City for Battered Fleet

LINCOLN, Neb.-- Lincoln firefighters are blaming the city for not having enough, or the proper vehicles to respond to emergencies.

At a press conference Monday, Lincoln Firefighters President Ron Trouba said firefighters are unable to perform their duties to the fullest extent.

“They are in such disrepair that there are incidents where they would not even start when dispatched to a fire,” said Trouba. “They will not shift past second gear in the middle of a response and have to pull over to shut the truck off, or the ladder on top of the truck could not be operated in a scenario when called upon, just to name a few.”

Trouba says nine of Lincoln’s fire engines and trucks are more than 15-years-old and that does not meet their standard.

“Aside from the botched purchase of fire engines in 2006, that didn't meet specifications, the city has only replaced one single fire engine since the 1990s when Mike Merwick was the fire chief,” said Trouba.

To help cut costs of maintenance and repair, Director of Public Safety Tom Casady says Fire Station 1 is using an Alternative Response Vehicle (ARV) to respond to medical calls.

“My goal is to keep our fleet in good shape,” said Casady. “And I think part of that is using smaller equipment when it's appropriate for the task.”

But Trouba says the ARV doesn’t carry the necessary equipment needed in case they have to divert to another call, or the call requires more resources than initially thought. He adds it only gets seven mile per gallon, and an engine gets around four, only saving the city $3,100 dollars a year.

“When the firefighters respond in a pickup, there is no one left at the station to staff their fire engine,” said Trouba. “Lincoln firefighters respond directly to one call to the next without returning to the station on a daily basis.”

Casady disagrees and thinks engines don’t need to do to calls for a heart attack.

“Firefighters enjoy fighting fires,” he said. “That's what they signed up to do but the fact of the matter is 80 percent of the time that's not what we're doing, we're going to a medical emergency.”

Casady says the city is using the ARV as a test to see if it helps reduce costs and still get the job done. But he says it hasn’t been used long enough to determine if it will compliment the fleet.

He says in 2012 it was dispatched 49 times. In 2013 it was dispatched 11. And since May 12th of this year, it’s been dispatched 490 times.

For Trouba’s full comments from the press conference visit www.iaff644.org


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