80ºF

Air conditioner problems plague HFD fire engines

HOUSTON – It’s already one of the hottest jobs you could ever sign up for.

Firefighters routinely walk into burning buildings where the temperatures can soar well above 200, 300, 400 degrees.

But can you imagine doing that and then having to jump into a sweltering hot, firetruck with no air conditioning?

“These firefighters are wearing gear that makes it over 100 degrees to begin with, and they have not done any work yet. They still have to (get) into the fire and do the work, then come back to the engine and cool down. And they can’t cool down, 'cause the A/C is still not working,” one Houston firefighter said.

He asked to conceal his identity for fear of retaliation.

“When you are going into extreme environments, your body has to be able to cool down. This isn’t a luxury, this is an absolute necessity,” Marty Lancton, Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association president, said.

Now Channel 2 Investigates confirms 11 Houston Fire Department engines and trucks have no working air conditioning.

We are talking about engines 21, 24, 31, 39, 42, 43,45, 52, 59 and 65, and ladder truck 59.

With the average firefighter already wearing 20 pounds of heavy, hot, fireproof gear, climbing into a hot vehicle in 90-degree weather, Lancton said it's a recipe for disaster.

"You are going to see a firefighter suffer tragic consequences from his body heating up, up to and including death," Lancton said.