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Petersburg firefighters forced to ride on ambulances due to equipment shortage

Petersburg firefighters to travel to emergencies in ambulances due to equipment shortage
Posted at 5:11 PM, Jun 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-06 17:11:36-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Firefighters in Petersburg are concerned about how a lack of functioning equipment could harm their safety and those living in the city.

"Well, it's an immense risk to public safety. The city is not focused on maintaining their emergency vehicles and ensuring when someone calls 911, their neighborhood fire station can respond appropriately," Scott Spencer, a spokesman for the Petersburg Professional Firefighters Association, said.

Petersburg firefighters spent Monday morning washing their unit, known as a squad.

It's the temporary replacement for the fire department's large ladder truck. Sources say that the truck has been out of service for more than two weeks.

The department's other ladder truck is also out of service.

"Both of those are at the repair shop, a 75-foot aerial ladder and the 100-foot ladder tower which is the city's primary ladder truck," Spencer said.

While the department's only other piece of aerial equipment can pump water, the aerial component doesn't work.

"There needs to be prearranged plans to deal with those things," Spencer said.

Sources said that efforts by the Firefighter's Association to voice their concerns to fire department leadership are being rejected.

The association said that firefighters have now been forced to load into an ambulance to be taken to fire calls.

"Whenever front line or reserve firefighting engines have been placed out of service, they have been replaced with ambulances," Spencer said.

"Jumping in and out of vehicles, responding to calls. I mean, what are they going to have next, pick up trucks and power washers, is that what they are going to give them? And expecting them to protect the city?"

This 1988 Seagraves Fire Engine is a reserve unit that is now in full service. It's also one that sources say continually leaks water.

Terrell Turner lives in owns multiple properties in Petersburg.

"The real issue is you are setting them up for failure," Turner said.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.