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Petersburg sources say broken fire equipment is slowing responses. City says money is on the way.

Petersburg sources say broken fire equipment is slowing responses. City says money is on the way.
Posted at 11:20 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-29 23:20:36-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- The Petersburg Fire community is sounding the alarm over concerns that broken equipment is hindering them from adequately responding to calls.

However, the city disagrees.

Gene Beemer a retired Petersburg Fire leader is getting involved to advocate. He said the situation has never been this bad.

“It’s a life safety issue,” he said.

A normal house fire call requires one ladder truck and three engines. As of Friday night, sources close to the department said they only have two working engines.

That’s out of a total of seven city engines they normally have. They said that’s four working actively working engines and three in reserves.

“No matter how great of a firefighter you are, if you don’t have equipment to save lives you won’t,” said Beemer.

The sources CBS6 spoke with said they’re worried because this situation is forcing them to rely on aid from other counties.

Beemer said from his decades of experience, those mutual aid companies have 15 to 20 min response times.

“Within 15 min or less a house is fully involved and if there are people trapped within there, they’re dead,” Beemer said.

As of Friday night, an outside county's fire engine was parked at a Petersburg fire department. Sources tell CBS6 things won’t change until July if they don’t receive more funding from the city.

They said the department is over budget for fixing equipment. They also said they have $100,000 in outstanding bills which doesn’t include other equipment that hasn’t been taken to be fixed.

“Someone needs to be held accountable and it needs to be accountable from the top,” Beemer said.

CBS6 reached out to the city of Petersburg for a response to these claims. A spokesperson said the department is operational with no lapses in service. They said more equipment is scheduled to be repaired next week.

Officials said current invoices owed have been processed and a check is scheduled to be issued on Monday.

“The city is financially stable,” they said.

However, Beemer and many close to the department tell CBS6 they feel that response isn’t adequate.

“Make a difference and start caring more about the citizens and firefighters,” he said.

CBS6 is waiting to hear back on when the invoices were processed and when the service dates were.

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