KPRC questions HFD chief, mayor about fire engine deployment

HOUSTON – The City of Houston unveiled 10 new fire trucks Wednesday in front of City Hall. The units are positive additions to an otherwise troubled emergency fleet. KPRC is asking questions to those in charge.

What's the controversy over HFD’s new fire engines?

The City of Houston accepted five new fire engines last Thursday but instead of putting them directly into service, three of the trucks were used to train crews while two of the fire engines sat idle (minor work was performed on the two trucks on Monday). Among the fire engines that sat idle was the new Engine 70. Over the last six days, Engine Company 70 was forced to use a Chevy Suburban on one day and then had repeated problems with a reserve fire engine.

What does the chief have to say about it?

Monday at City Hall, Chief Sam Pena called the situation a “manufactured crisis.” The chief first said that all five new fire engines were being used for training but later revised his position to state that three trucks were used for training while two others were having work performed on them.  The chief said the crews must be trained on the new trucks before they are deployed and that the most efficient way to conduct that training was to train the crews on the trucks that were first available. The chief said all ten trucks would be in service by June 28. Five of them were scheduled to enter service today, June 26. The chief said that 18 new fire engines have been added to the fleet (as replacements) in the last year.

What does the Mayor have to say about it?

The mayor said that the 10 fire trucks will be put in service four months ahead of schedule. He flatly denied that the trucks were kept out of service in order to be present for an unveiling event at City Hall Wednesday. Last Friday, the Mayor’s Office told Channel 2 Investigates “no such event is planned.”