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Five months after devastating fire, these Richmond mechanics are still waiting for answers

Posted at 10:50 PM, Dec 01, 2022

RICHMOND, Va. -- Five months ago, a fire at a Richmond Public School bus depot left a trail of destruction, including the equipment for a group of mechanics. Months later, this group says they still haven't been reimbursed.

While no one was injured in the fire, the building was destroyed along with multiple buses, vehicles, equipment and tools. Since the fire, the district's mechanics have moved to a temporary location. However, the mechanics told CBS 6 anonymously that times have been trying ever since.

"We are somehow making it work. I don't know how," one mechanic said.

The mechanics said they aren't getting any answers about when they will get reimbursed for the tools they lost in the fire.

"Answers we did get keep changing. From 30 to 90 days to 90 days plus to sometime next year," another mechanic said.

To do their job, the mechanics bring their personal tools to work which can be valued anywhere from $15,000 to $80,000.

"These are the tools we use to pay our rent, pay our mortgage, raise our families, buy food," a mechanic said.

Many mechanics also use their tools outside of work to make additional money, another thing that is causing concern as their insurance money hasn't been dispersed yet.

"It's our lifetime investment. It's how we make our living. It's not just a bunch of metal," a mechanic said.

CBS 6 reached out to learn why the mechanics haven't been reimbursed yet and what their compensation timeline looks like.

In a statement, RPS said they can't speak to the insurance company's timelines and requirements for reimbursement but they said they are aware of the losses incurred from the fire. They said in the interim, RPS will receive $1,000 worth of tools for each mechanic.

As more equipment from the fire gets replaced, these mechanics continue to wonder when they'll get their reimbursements.

"They said we're last to be dealt with. We're at the bottom of the barrel," a mechanic said.

RPS said they will continue to ensure their mechanics are supported in their work and with any final claims that can be documented and eventually reimbursed.

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