Houston Fire Department ambulance broke down in President Trump's motorcade

HFD trucks dealing with air-conditioning problems

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - There are new issues with Houston Fire Department trucks as the department is already dealing with several other equipment problems.

Channel 2 Investigates have been following these issues since 2017.

Recently, it has been discovered that some fire department engines and ladders don't have air conditioning. As summer temperatures rise, so does the temperature of the air coming out of the firetrucks' air-conditioning units.

"The air coming out of the vents is 90 degrees,"  said one firefighter.

Houston firefighters in full gear are in trucks, in which the temperature can and does exceed 110 degrees.

The fire department's equipment isn't the only failure Channel 2 Investigates uncovered.

Channel 2 Investigates has learned a Houston Fire Department ambulance assigned to President Trump's motorcade broke down.

The Medic Unit, an advanced life support ambulance, was one of two assigned to the motorcade.

"I can guarantee that none of the ambulances assigned to the motorcade caused a delay or caused any issues in how we serve and protect," Chief Sam Pena said.

But when one of two hand-picked ambulances fails during a well-choreographed event like a presidential visit, on the first day of Hurricane Season, it raises the issue of how the same equipment will perform during an emergency.

"I have a great deal of confidence in the city's preparation. You go out today and you will find some bus, truck or car that is not functioning that doesn't mean the fleet is not capable of protecting the city of Houston," Mayor Sylvester Turner said.  

But as Channel 2 Investigates, the breakdown is not an odd, one-off occurrence, and the string of emergency equipment problems continue to plague the Houston Fire Department.

Pena revealed Friday that approximately 50 fire trucks, including engines and ladders, had broken air-conditioning units.

The problem presents a safety issue because of the hot heavy gear firefighters must wear, according to the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association.

"They're already winded already hot, heat exhaustion is probably setting in and they haven't even done any work yet," a Houston firefighter who asked to remain anonymous said.

Pena told Channel 2 Investigates that approximately 50 Houston fire trucks do not have functioning air-conditioning systems.

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