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HFD Station No. 7 left without ladder truck, adding to department's fleet issues

HOUSTON – With troubling frequency, Houston fire stations are going entire days without fire trucks, Channel 2 Investigates has learned.

On Thursday, the Houston Fire Department’s Station No. 7 was without a ladder truck, a key piece of fire protection equipment in the Midtown/Downtown area of Houston.

The 2011 aerial ladder truck, younger than most in the fleet, had a mechanical failure and went out of service at 6:33 a.m. according to an HFD source.

In place of the truck, Thursday, was not a reserve ladder, but an instead a so-called “manpower unit,” which is essentially an SUV used to shuttle firefighters to emergency scenes.

"When you call for help when you dial 911 and it's your family member that needs help and you show up in an apparatus that cannot do the job it's intended to do everybody should be concerned with that,” Patrick Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Firefighters Association, said.

Assistant Chief Ruy Lozano emailed the Houston Fire Department’s response to the situation:

"HFD Ladder 7 went into the shop at 8 a.m. this morning for what was believed to be a minor problem with a quick repair time and a manpower unit was put in its place. In this case, the small repair resulted in the discovery for the need of additional maintenance. Fortunately, there are several nearby stations equipped with ladder trucks and towers to service the impacted area. We appreciate FMD mechanics for their due diligence in assuring apparatuses are serviced thoroughly, ensuring the safety of our members."

Lozano said the Ladder No. 7 was slated to be returned to service by 7 p.m., Wednesday.

Two weeks ago, Station No. 67 was left with no fire trucks, after a breakdown sent an engine to the repair yard, while a ladder truck was unavailable because of training assignment.

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