HFD's fire truck woes puts your safety on the line - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

HFD's fire truck woes puts your safety on the line

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The beef is sizzling and the flames are roaring at Juan Mo's, but there is always that concern about an unexpected fire.

"We try to make sure we check every fire that we have cut on, make sure that everything is cut off," manager Steven Mallette said.

Will Houston fire trucks be ready to move in case there is a fire in your community?

FOX 26 News has learned of some recent cases where the Houston Fire Department has gone without fire trucks for several hours.  Those trucks are broken with no backup reserve units available.

"Our apparatuses, unlike other city vehicles, have to be operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," Jeff Caynon, president of the local firefighters union, said.

Caynon said he was disturbed when he learned some Houston fire trucks were out of service because of prolonged repairs at the city's Fleet Management Division.

Firefighters at one station had to arrive in an SUV instead of a ladder truck because it was broken for 12 hours.

"To the lay person, 12 hours doesn't sound that long, but every piece of equipment in the fleet that is front line equipment has to be available to do the job that we do," Caynon said.

That job is saving lives and keeping homes and businesses from going up in flames.

"We wouldn't want the restaurant to burn down.  We would want to save as much as we can," Mallette said.

That's why HFD officials have demanded accountability from the Fleet Management Division.  We obtained this internal bulletin:

"In recent months, HFD has experienced a few instances where a reserve piece of equipment was not immediately available ... as a result crew members experienced extended out of service times ..."

Those concerns prompted the Fleet Management Division to clean house and replace its own staff at HFD headquarters on Dart where the fire vehicles are repaired.

Does that provide relief for you at your home or the firefighters on the front lines?

"I think we will see.  We'll see.  At this point, I don't know if I can give you a definitive answer about that, but we'll see," Caynon said.

Kenneth Hoglund, head of the Fleet Management Division, issued this statement:

"The new alignment will provide the Houston Fire Department with a dedicated Division Manager to oversee maintenance operations versus the quadrant management structure that was in place when I joined the City of Houston in January 2012."

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