Alarm continues over broken Petersburg fire equipment

PETERSBURG, Va. – The Petersburg firefighting community is expressing concern about broken equipment preventing them from doing their jobs.

Those concerns come nearly three weeks after the city said it paid bills to repair those trucks. However, things changed late Thursday afternoon.

Sources close to CBS6 said the situation had deteriorated so badly as of Thursday morning that the department was down to two engines. The fire department is supposed to have a minimum of three and a ladder truck.

As CBS6 began asking Petersburg about it Thursday afternoon, two fire trucks entered Petersburg Fire Station 3 around 4:45 p.m. Thursday. Sources told CBS6 that both engines were returned to service from a repair shop.

Hours earlier, sources told CBS6 that the department’s broken equipment situation had worsened even more than in previous weeks.

Three weeks ago, CBS6 reported that the department was down to two working engines and a ladder truck. Normally, the department has a total of seven engines and one scale truck.

Around noon Thursday, sources told CBS6 the department was to use a white commuter to transport firefighters to the scene. They said their ladder truck was also broken down and the mutual aid fire truck they borrowed from Colonial Heights needed to be returned.

Gene Beemer, a retired fire chief from Petersburg, weighed in on the situation.

“We are two to three weeks away and we are worse than we were. It’s totally impossible for these guys to do their job,” Beemer said.

The city of Petersburg told CBS6 on April 29 that a check had been issued to pay bills to repair broken equipment. CBS6 reached out around 3 p.m. Thursday to ask if the situation was getting worse.

Shortly after, the city released a statement saying four units with firefighting capabilities were on duty. They also said their ladder truck is in the shop awaiting delayed parts due to supply chain issues.

“The city is not at risk of being unable to meet emergency needs,” a city spokesperson said.

St. Petersburg has reached an agreement with surrounding counties for mutual aid if they are in a difficult situation, according to the city. This means that it may take longer for trucks to arrive on scene, depending on where they are coming from.

Despite the news, some members of The Petersburg Fire community are calling on the city to be more transparent, saying they believe actions speak louder than words.

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