Audit shows critical shortages in D.C. Fire Department fleet - Fox 2 News Headlines

Audit shows critical shortages in D.C. Fire Department fleet

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A new audit of the D.C Fire Department’s fleet of vehicles shows a critical lack of reserve pumper and ladder trucks with just over half of the ambulances owned by the city available for service.

The audit was ordered by D.C. City Councilman Tommy Wells after FOX 5 revealed the fleet numbers given to the city council last February were false.

After taking weeks to count all of the vehicles in its fleet and determining their readiness the D.C. Fire Department now admits it doesn’t have nearly the ambulances and pumper trucks it claimed to have last February.

City Councilman Tommy Wells says there is money in the budget to purchase new vehicles but he is now more concerned with staffing.

Just before he appeared before the D.C. City Council’s Judiciary Committee last February, Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe and his staff told the council it had 398 vehicles in its fleet including 29 ladder trucks, 106 ambulances and 64 pumpers.

Numbers we now know were false.

In a new report obtained by FOX 5 the fire department now admits it has far fewer vehicles with many of them out of service.

In fact an audit now shows the department has available for service:

  • 56 out of 96 ambulances
  • 37 out of 53 pumpers
  • And 18 out of 26 ladder trucks.

Those numbers concern Tommy Wells.

"I am putting a whole lot of scrutiny on the maintenance and availability of these vehicles, that's why we got the audit report and i am going to require another audit report as they acquire and fix vehicles and I will stay on this like a laser beam, they must be accountable to the public for the vehicles they have and the vehicles they have been budgeted for”, said wells.

As chairman of the City Council’s Judiciary Committee, Wells points out the fire department has been given 18 million dollars for new equipment but has been slow to spend it.

"This is why I am putting the focus on the fire department right now we need to be assured that we have the vehicles ready and available that we need to keep the city safe", he said.

An opinion shared by the firefighters union.

"It calls into question our ability to answer calls on a daily basis”, said union Second Vice President Dabney Hudson, “we are coming up on summertime, summers here, we had our first little heat wave the other day, it’s our busy time of the year and we run significantly more calls in the next four to five months".

Even more concerning for Wells is the fire chief's re-deployment plan which would put more ambulances on the street during peak afternoon and evening hours.

"They are way behind in hiring paramedics, way behind in hiring the staffing they need and that's why I am very, very skeptical about the new staffing proposal they have", said wells.

According to the fire department’s numbers there are currently 17 ambulances in reserve.

A number the union says should be doubled.

On Monday Morning Tommy Wells says he went to the Office of Unified Communications to listen to 911 calls and see the staffing levels for himself.

Wells says, as of 10:30 he was astounded to see only three out of 39 ambulances were available for service and all of them were in northwest.

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