Atlanta fire chief responds to ongoing equipment issues

The Atlanta fire chief said critical pieces of fire equipment fail too frequently.

Rod Smith explained the bulk of the fire apparatus was purchased around the same time. And those same engines and trucks are not having mechanical issues at the same time.

Firefighters and the vice-chair of the Atlanta City Council Public Safety panel have expressed concerns about the readiness of the fire department to respond to emergencies.

FOX 5 has detailed how nearly one-quarter of the ladder trucks have been sitting idle at the government maintenance shop.

Those are the trucks firefighters rely on to take victims from upper floors of dwellings.

Chief Smith said battalion commanders deploy umbrella coverage for any significant event, in that multiple pieces of equipment are sent to an incident to compensate for a closer truck that may be down.

To address the repair issues, Smith said, the fire apparatus require mechanical skills that a city garage tech may not have.

Smith said he will recommend city hall hire and bring in-house a fire equipment specialist to manage the repairs.

He also said they are planning new purchases as part of a replacement program.

Councilman Dustin Hillis is not placing blame on fire administrators. But Hillis insists purchases, as well as repairs, must be accelerated.

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