Flint, MI – Two years ago, Flint’s fire department was using fire trucks from as far back as 1995, some of which had significant rust damage in the undercarriages and floors.
Interim Fire Chief Theron Wiggins said at a committee meeting March 8 that firefighters were using stop signs to cover the floors of the trucks so their feet wouldn’t fall through. Some of the trucks had 175,000 miles on them, Wiggins said.
However, Flint faced a $10,000 OSHA violation fine about 18 months ago. They were able to negotiate the fine down to $2,000.
The old, rusted trucks were taken out of service after the OSHA violation.
Now, the fire department is going to get new trucks.
Flint City Council approved the purchase of three new fire trucks for the Flint Fire Department at the meeting Monday, March 13.
Wiggins said there are currently 11 trucks throughout the five different stations in Flint. There are two fire trucks at each station and one spare. One of the trucks that is still used is from 1995, a pumper.
Wiggins said these new trucks are very important to the Flint fire department, which responds to 15-20 fires per week. Wiggins said that is a high volume compared to similarly sized municipalities. The large number of vacant homes in Flint also create more fires the fire department must respond to.
“Fire trucks are a necessity,” Wiggins said. “We have to respond and when we respond these trucks have to be able to perform. And we are so excited that we have a brand-new fire truck coming that we will be positively able to continue serving the citizens of this city.”
The first truck, which Wiggins said is expected to arrive to Flint within 60 days, is a pump truck. City Council allocated $690,000 to the purchase of a pump truck.
A pump truck is usually the first truck to the scene of a fire. It holds 750-1,000 gallons of water, which is used to put out the fire. If that amount of water is not enough, Wiggins said they connect to a hydrant.
Another type of fire truck approved for purchase is a quint truck. These trucks are similar to a pump truck but they also have a hydraulic ladder on top. They are used for higher buildings and larger fires. Council allocated $750,000 for this truck.
The last type of truck that the fire department will purchase is a squad truck. These trucks carry air tanks for firefighters, fans, ladders and other tools for fire suppression. Council allocated $818,580 for the purchase of this truck.
The quint truck and the squad truck may take up to eight months to get because they have to find an available manufacturer, Wiggins said.
City Council also approved $100,000 for the purchase of protective equipment. Wiggins said this would go toward thermal imaging cameras, which will help firefighters find the hottest spots in a fire. Those funds will also help purchase specialized coats and pants for firefighters, who are, “going into basically a hot oven,” he said.
Wiggins said he’s thankful for these new trucks and equipment, but there’s still more to be done.
“We’re looking for grant opportunities and also in our budget to purchase two to three more fire trucks this year,” he said.