|Allentown firefighters at City Council|
|Firefighter Keith Pierce|
Arriving late, I missed the first two speakers, Jeremy Warmkessel and Adam Perreault. But I was in time to hear Keith Pierce, the safety committee liaison. He is also a rescue engine driver, hazmat team tech and tech rescue operator. He told Council that the entire reserve fleet is now on the front line.If one more vehicle breaks down, enginemen will be responding to fires in a pick up with no water and no hoses.
"In my opinion, it comes down to the fact that we don't have a fleet replacement plan," said Pierce. He added that many of the vehicles being used are 1999 vintage or earlier. "You wouldn't drive your car as much as we drive those fire engines." He said the vehicle breakdowns, combined with a force that Fed Ed has whittled down from 146 to 122, has created a safety risk
|Coach Michael Kaminski|
Controller Jeff Glazier said a new fire engine in planned in 2018, and two more are planned in 2019. But Pierce, who said that "firemen are the ultimate pragmatists," responded that these pipe dreams tend to vanish at budget time. "It's where the rubber meets the road. When those trucks back into the fire station for the first time,that's when we'll count in it."
O'Connell, who said he'd meet with Pierce any time, is concerned that a "tragedy is around the corner. ... Bottom line, it's public safety."
Daryl Hendricks, a former police captain who handled hoses himself and is Chair of the Public Safety Committee said he'd like to join in that discussion. So would Julio Guridy, chair of the Finance Committee. He called the situation "unacceptable" and "deplorable." Roger MacLean said he'sseem the reuests for equipment, and they get cut.
Public Works Director Craig Messinger agreed that "there is a need for it. ... It is a priority"
|Daryl Hendricks listens as Ray O'Connell pledges|
to meet with firefighters
Julian Kern said that, in years past when he worked as a freelancer, two trucks would respond to blazes. Now, "these engines and trucks break down constantly," including one truck that went down while responding to its first fire. He said the situation "is putting the lives of firefighters and the residents at risk." He added that the fire department, however, is "top notch. They are quick at getting on scene. They are quick at fighting the fires. I've watched them in person doing this. They are awesome.These guys deserve to have the proper staff and equipment."
Restaurateur Don Ringer asked, "I thought we were the City Without Limits, is that true? He noted that, just last week, Fed Ed claimed to have $18 million in reserve. "Why can't we use some of that money to buy a fire truck? It saddens me to see those guys, who do a helluva' job, sitting here with garbage."
Dennis Pearson, who just came from umpiring at Notre Dame, said this lack of equipment causes pressure on other communities rendering assistance.
Fed Ed, of course, was absent. He was busy blacking out Right-to-Know requests.