I-Team Exclusive: Fire Apparatus Investigation
By Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In the wake of a medic unit bursting into flames, heavily damaging a firehouse at 4th and Arch Streets, City Council has voted to hold public hearings into the condition and safety of Philadelphia fire apparatus, while the CBS 3 I-Team has uncovered visual evidence of still more problems.
Pictures, provided by the Firefighters Union Local 22, show another Medic Unit, 45B, losing two of its rear wheels as it raced a patient to a hospital April 11. Fortunately, union officials say, the unit was not travelling at a high speed when it broke down on Germantown Avenue.
On the same day the resolution for hearings, co-sponsored by City Councilman James Kenney, was passed unanimously in Council, an official Fire Department Status report revealed 39 pieces of apparatus not available for service, including nine frontline pumpers, seven frontline ladders and 11 frontline medic units. The “frontline units” are replaced by “reserve” apparatus, most, the union says, more than 20 years old. Union President Joe Schulle tells CBS 3’s Walt Hunter the large percentage of “frontline” units out of service is clear evidence that city repair crews can’t keep up with growing problems in Philadelphia’s aging fleet.
Responding to CBS 3’s requests for comment, the Nutter Administration issued a statement that reads: “We have received the resolution.
We are always working with council to provide any type of information they are requesting. And we look forward to responding at the appropriate time.”
Local 22 officials, who requested maintenance records following the fire two weeks ago, say the city has still not provided those records, records, they claim, will give a clear picture of just how serious maintenance problems are.