Petersburg firefighters could lose gear over unpaid bills

Posted at 4:01 PM, Aug 31, 2016

PETERSBURG, Va. -- A company that supplied the Petersburg Fire Department with protective gear has put the department on notice.

In a letter to Fire Chief T.C. Hairston, obtained by CBS 6, Blue Ridge Rescue Suppliers said it planned to "request the return" of clothes and equipment for which the department has not yet paid.

"It is with great remorse that I inform you of the intent of Blue Ridge Rescue Suppliers to request the return of all PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) items sold to the Petersburg Fire Department, that to date have not been paid for," the letter began. "It brings me no pleasure at all to do so and I deeply regret the situation in which your department has been placed."

The unpaid bills, according to the letter, amount to $32,843.

The protective gear in question includes turnout pants, turnout coats, helmets, and boots.

Blue Ridge Rescue Suppliers said the Petersburg Fire Department was past due on invoices that date back to April and May.

"Inquiries to your finance department have left us with no reasonable assurance that any of the invoices will be paid," the letter continued. "Additionally, several of the items are also included under the FEMA grant which your department received. As a last effort to save this from occurring, we will wait until 12 September, 2016 to receive payment."

Scott Spencer, with the Firefighters Union, said the repossession puts Petersburg’s firefighters in "great peril."

"If repossessed, firefighters will be forced to use protective clothing that has experienced heavy wear and heavy exposure to volatile fire environments," he said. "We urge the city’s leadership to push firefighter safety issues to the forefront of their decision making, and ensure payment is extended to the vendor."



Watch 'The Jennifer Hudson Show' weekdays at 3 p.m. on CBS 6!

📱 Download CBS 6 News App
The app features breaking news alerts, live video, weather radar, traffic incidents, closings and delays and more.