PETERSBURG, Va. – After discovering that a fire engine was sitting out of service for two weeks for an issue that would cost less than $100 to fix, the man tasked with digging Petersburg out of its financial crisis talked about leadership issues which kept the repair from being made promptly.
Robert Bobb said there is no excuse that Engine Five sat garaged for nearly two weeks, waiting on a tire change that would cost less $100 to fix.
He expressed concern that the chance to fix the issue for free wasn’t taken up sooner.
"This is a matter of leadership, quite frankly,” he said.
When a worn tire made it too dangerous to drive Engine 5 was parked and a fire truck borrowed from Fort Lee to run emergency calls.
"Leadership says that when things are broken, I’m going to do whatever it takes to take corrective action and that's the conversation that we're having with the fire chief this afternoon,” Bobb said.
The repair process started Wednesday afternoon.
"There's no excuse for it, quite frankly,” Bobb said.
The city and firefighters are quick to point out there was not a lack of fire coverage while the truck was out of service, but there is concern over how this situation has been handled.
"Clearly there's a breakdown somewhere in the chain to get this accomplished and completed, in a timely matter,” said Dan Macaluso, President Petersburg Professional Firefighters Association.
Firefighters added that it’s always better to use the equipment on which they’ve been trained.
"There's been a lot of training on that specific apparatus, so it's much more beneficial to have our specific apparatus, that's built for us, in service,’ Macaluso said.
This isn’t the only fire truck in need of repairs. The city's big ladder truck is also out of service, a repair estimated at $7,500 repair.
With the fire department's aging fleet in need of constant repairs, the city's budget for the next fiscal year includes new fire trucks.
"We're in a spot right now, where we don't have reliable, consistent apparatus,” Macaluso said.
The tire change took 45 minutes. The crew brought the engine to Leete Tire, and they also brought a credit card though Leete's owner did the job for free.