Fire Department Apparatus Out of Service for Three Days
Tender at Station 9 delivers water to neighborhoods lacking hydrants
ANCHORAGE - It's a piece of firefighting equipment in perfect working order, and yet Tender 9 at the Huffman Fire Station has been inactive for days.
The tender is a water supply truck that can bring up to 2,500 gallons of water to the scene of a fire. It normally serves areas ranging from Huffman to Rabbit Creek, but the firefighters’ union said Friday that it had been out of commission due to a lack of funding from the city for the manpower needed to operate it.
“There are two things,” Anchorage Firefighters Union Vice President Mike Stumbaugh said. “We don't have the adequate staffing to bump people up to fill [the position] without overtime, and then [the city] is unwilling to pay the overtime, so it's this kind of a catch-22.”
The nearest other fire stations, Stumbaugh said, are three to four miles away. Those extra miles—combined with the chains on the tires of the fire engines, mean a slower response to a fire call—especially to calls up in the Hillside, where Stumbaugh said hydrants can be unreliable. The tender was closed for three days this past week.
“We're gonna get the job done no matter what, I mean that's one thing we do at the fire department, so we'll just have to make due with less water or we won't be able to be as aggressive, and we'll have to stay out side and there will be a greater loss to the citizen’s [property].”
But the city said Friday that the union is wrong. Deputy Fire Chief John Drozdowski said it had nothing to do with a lack of staffing, but rather, a scheduling error.
“The need for firefighters is subjective determination, and today we have 97 firefighters on duty, every day, and we call back people when we need extra firefighters, so we have sufficient resources to do, to provide, provide the service we said we were going to provide.”
If putting Tender 9 out of service would have put lives at risk, Drozdowski said, it never would have happened.