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Wheels fall off RI fire truck days after union calls for action on aging fleet

The Providence ladder truck lost two of its tires while returning from an emergency


By Laura French

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Two tires fell off a Providence Fire Department’s fire truck returning from an emergency on Thursday, just days after the city’s fire union called for officials to act on the department’s aging vehicles.

The ladder truck, which is about 13 years old, had been thoroughly inspected in November with no problems detected, officials told NBC 10. There appeared to be no problems with the rims or lug nuts on the wheels after the incident on Thursday, officials said.

Union leaders said the latest incident is just another example of ongoing problems with the aging fleet.

“God forbid that had ever happened on the highway while driving to an incident,” Providence Fire Fighters IAFF Local 799 President Derek Silva told ABC6.

According to posts on the union’s twitter page, half of the PFD’s fire engines and three-quarters of its ladder trucks are 20 years old.

On Tuesday, the union published an open letter outlining problems with the department’s older vehicles, including apparatus catching fire and brake loss.

The letter suggested possible funding solutions to help tackle the problem, such as using a portion of the revenue from the city’s emergency medical services to cover costs or entering into a lease-to-own program with the apparatus manufacturer.

“I ask that aggressive action is taken before there is tangible impact to our city’s safety,” the letter, signed by Silva, concluded.