PETERSBURG, Va (WRIC) — The Petersburg Professional Firefighters Association expressed concerns recently over the working conditions of Petersburg firefighters.
Specifically, the group has recently taken to Facebook to make comment about the increasingly frequent practice of borrowing fire engines from neighboring municipalities in order to take care of fires in the community.
In the Facebook post, representatives from PPFA said the Petersburg Fire Department recently borrowed a fire engine from the Fort Lee Fire & Emergency Services.
“This is not the first time that we have borrowed from Fort Lee. Within the past year, we have also borrowed from Colonial Heights and Prince George County,” the post said. “The three new apparatus that were canceled during production should have been completed and delivered by now.”
In response, Interim Fire Chief, Brian Sturdivant said that the fire department must do what it must do to protect its residents.
“Our first priority is to protect our citizens,” Sturdivant said. “It has taken the City of Petersburg years of neglect to get where we are today and my job is to restore our services and our equipment as quickly as possible. We have mutual aid agreements with all the surrounding counties and when we need equipment from our neighboring fire departments, that equipment is available. We have a great team in place, and we are making progress.”
Interim City Manager Tom Tyrrell said that the city government is doing what they can to get firefighters the equipment they need.
“It is a priority to get our first responders the tools they need to do their job to provide public safety. This is our #1 priority,” Tyrell said.
Interim Fire Chief, Brian Sturdivant says the problem with fire fleet is a failing band aid approach years in the making.
“We have not had the availability of an emergency vehicle technician me mechanic to take a look at our apparatus. We have been using heavy equipment mechanics. We have been using diesel mechanics, but the fire service model is to have certified emergency vehicle technicians as your mechanics,” said Sturdivant.
Sturdivant says he’s in discussion with the Robert Group about securing funds to address these public safety concerns as soon as possible.
Fort Lee Fire and Emergency Services representatives say they understand the challenges facing the Petersburg Fire Department and they’re more than willing to assist.
Fort Lee and the Army we consider ourselves very much a part of this community and supporting our local communities and getting that support in return is something we definitely enjoy about having great relationships with our neighboring localities. Per the mutual agreements, if we had an urgent need during the time we were lending one of the pieces of our equipment we’d be able to recall that reserve trucks back,” said U.S Army Garrison, Fort Lee Public Affairs Director,
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.