Equipment concerns plague East Cleveland firefighters

Equipment concerns plague East Cleveland firefighters

EAST CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The East Cleveland Fire Department finally has one truck that is supposedly up and running, but there are no guarantees, a situation that's putting residents' safety at risk.

Water was seeping into a fuel tank in the last working truck putting it out of commission.

"The guys on shift here were able to drain the entire fuel system out of the engine and able to get it back up to running condition, but it's still not fixed 100 percent," said Thomas Buth, the Local 500 Firefighters Union President.  

The city of East Cleveland is on the verge of financial ruin, and city leaders are unable to find the money to hire a mechanic.

Buth says the more than 17,000 people who live in East Cleveland should be worried.

"Absolutely, they have a lot to worry about: property and life safety. We can't properly do our job with the equipment that we have at hand now," added Buth.

Across the street from the fire department, Linda Nowling says she did not know that for twelve hours the fire department was basically out of commission. Units in Cleveland and Cleveland Heights would have to come to the rescue.

"They need to get somebody to help them. We need help," said Nowling, who has lived in East Cleveland since the 60s.

The mayor would not go on camera to talk about the desperate situation emergency crews and residents face, but told 19 Action News Reporter Brian Duffy that he thinks the city should merge with Cleveland to resolve its financial woes.

"That could be down the road, but right now, people can't rely on what's up and coming, we need to handle what's going on at the present time," said Buth.

Firefighters say this is a matter of life and death for everyone.

"I don't know any other city that has one truck for their city. That's ridiculous," said Angela Delaboin who lives in East Cleveland.

Delaboin says she thinks the city should notify residents from now on when their emergency crews are without equipment.

Buth says the city has gone as long as two weeks without any working trucks before.

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