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What's going on? Why 5 new fire trucks are sitting unused

What’s the issue?

HOUSTON – Channel 2 Investigates has learned that HFD has five new fire engines that have been ready for service since June 20, but will not be put in service until June 28, according to Chief Sam Pena.

In the meantime, HFD Station 70 did not have a fire engine for most of the day Friday, and instead made calls in a Chevy Suburban.

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Another station slated for one of the replacement fire engines, 44, is currently running a fire engine without functioning air conditioning.

We learned through a source privy to the unveiling plan, that the trucks will be delivered to City Hall next week, instead of to their fire stations immediately.

What is HFD saying?

Pena has a lot to say on this issue:

"Aside from the engine apparatus you are referring to, we are expecting the arrival of an additional five engine apparatuses on Wednesday, June 26, for a total of 10 new apparatus this month.

"We are delaying the deployment of the first five because beginning Monday, June 24, we are using the apparatus we have on hand to train the crews of the stations that will be receiving the next five apparatuses.

"The training for the next five was scheduled on June 20, please see the attached memo. In this manner, I will have all crews at the 10 stations trained and all apparatuses deployed by June 28. Waiting to start the training until after we receive the next five apparatus would delay total deployment another week due to the shift schedules.

"Regardless of where the apparatuses are currently stored, the official acceptance for the five new apparatuses is scheduled with the vendor for Wednesday, June 26. On that date, we inspect and officially accept the apparatus from the vendor. 70’s was undergoing preventative maintenance and repair today.  They are complete and have been called to pick up their apparatus.

"We normally offer a media availability when we receive a large order of apparatus as this signifies a large investment by the City. We will have the same opportunity next week. This does not impede or delay deployment of the apparatus as I previously explained."

 

New HFD Apparatus Familiarization Class Memo (PDF)
New HFD Apparatus Familiarization Class Memo (Text)

What is the mayor saying?

Alan Bernstein, director of communications for Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, issued the following statement after we asked about the plan for an unveiling ceremony for the new fire trucks:

"No such event is scheduled. On past occasions, new fire trucks have been displayed outside city hall on Wednesdays, giving the mayor, other officials and the public a chance to view them."

What’s the union saying?

Marty Lancton, President of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Union, said:

"These trucks should be pressed into service as soon as they are ready to go, not when this Mayor or someone else believes they want to do a photo op."

What's next?

Look for 10 new fire engines to be unveiled at City Hall next week, and put into service by June 28.