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RI fire union raises alarm over aging apparatus, ambulances

The union posted their concerns on social media and published an open letter suggesting possible solutions


By Laura French

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The union representing fire personnel in Rhode Island’s capital city are calling for officials to address an aging apparatus and ambulance fleet they say poses a risk to public safety.

Providence Fire Fighters IAFF Local 799 published an open letter on Monday stating fire trucks have caught fire, lost the use of their brakes and sustained other damage due to their age.

“Providence has a long history of utilizing aging equipment for its fire department with one of the oldest fire truck fleets in the state, but this situation continues to deteriorate,” the letter stated.

The union also took to social media, posting multiple facts about the aging fleet on Twitter, including that one-third of the city’s fire engines and three-quarters of its ladder trucks are 20 years old, and that half of the fire department’s ambulances have more than 100,000 miles on them.

The tweets also said that five of Providence’s fire trucks have caught fire within the last year.

The union offered four potential funding solutions that could help replace the apparatus: using revenue from the city’s EMS, fire prevention or hazmat response services, or entering into a lease-to-own program with the apparatus manufacturer.

The letter was addressed to Councilman James E. Taylor, chair of the city’s special committee on public safety. The city’s mayor, council president and commissioner of public safety were also sent a copy.