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Cleveland firefighters forced to use damaged truck, voice concerns alleging the city’s fleet is in bad shape

Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 11:33 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - There’s new concern that Cleveland’s fire fleet is in such bad shape, it may be jeopardizing the first responder’s ability to help you in an emergency.

19 News investigators discovered one local station has no choice but to use a damaged truck because the city doesn’t have any spares available.

Firefighters say they were working a car accident on I-90 earlier this week when a driver plowed right into Ladder 30.

Francis Lally is the President of the Cleveland Firefighters Union.

He says none of his guys were physically injured when the crash happened Thursday morning, but the collision did hurt their confidence in Ladder 30.

He says a utility ladder on the side of the truck is heavily damaged. Firefighters use it to get to the aerial ladder.

A tale light was busted, and a few compartments were also smashed in.

“We know we’re going out there with compromised equipment,” Lally said. “It’s a risk to everyone.”

Regardless, the Ladder 30 is back in position at Station 30 on Cleveland’s East Side.

“It is damaged and compromised and should be taken out of service,” Lally said.

But, Lally says the department can’t take it out of service, because it doesn’t have any spares available to replace it at the moment.

“Other departments have spares. We have spares, but because of the issues with our fleet... those spares are actually operating as first-line units for us,” Lally said.

Lally says Ladder 30 is now drawing attention to the long-time problem his crews have been talking about for years.

“It’s not a one-off thing. We’ve been bringing the attention of city council and the mayor and the public at large to the state of our apparatus,” he said.

Lally says he thought city leaders had listened at one point. He says Cleveland purchased a few new trucks last year.

“The apparatuses were in the City of Cleveland’s possession before the Presidential debate last year,” he said.

But, for some reason, he says they’re just sitting somewhere right now, waiting for radio equipment to be put in.

“I don’t know why the delay, all I can tell you is that there is a delay,” he said.

It’s frustrating, because he says if the trucks were in operation his crews wouldn’t just have to make due in Ladder 30.

“It should be replaced, so repairs can be made, but at the end of the day the decision is, do we use the truck we have or no truck at all? And it’s better to use the truck,” Lally said.

We reached out to the Cleveland Fire Department for comment but did not get a response.

Lally says he doesn’t have any sort of time line as to when Ladder 30 may be fully repaired.

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