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FOX 17 News investigates reports that firefighters respond to fires with broken equipment

April fire (Photo: Ciara Vecchiarino)
April fire (Photo: Ciara Vecchiarino)
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FOX 17 News is investigating reports from Nashville’s Firefighters Union that the Nashville Fire Department (NFD) is sending firefighters to respond to fires with broken equipment.

Danny Yates, President of the Nashville Firefighters Association, says the fire at the Polo Park Apartments in Donelson on April 24 is an example where the second engine to respond did not have a working pump to fight the fire.

Yates explained sending firefighters to respond to a fire in an engine with broken parts is dangerous for both the firefighters and homeowners. He wants the fire department to stop using broken fire equipment.

Tony Stephens lives in an apartment right next door to the building that caught on fire at the Polo Park Apartments.

“It breaks my heart because I mean I see these people every day, you know, and just to see them lose everything and there’s nothing they can do about it,” Stephens emphasized.

Yates was a Nashville firefighter for 44 years and he was a former Nashville fire chief.

He says that broken fire pump meant firefighters didn't have the water needed to put out the fire.

“If it’s not working correctly, you’re just out of business as far as firefighting goes,” Yates explained.

Yates says this is part of a greater issue that impacts both firefighters and citizens on a weekly basis.

Ciara Vecchiarino called 911 and began banging on doors at the apartment complex on the night of April 24 to get everyone out of their apartments safely.

She says it was concerning how long it took for the firefighters to start fighting the fire.

“You can actually see in this picture the fire trucks are here from the lights in the front and we were like where’s the water, where’s the water for about ten minutes,” Vecchiarino said.

NFD's records indicate the pumper was working despite what witnesses reported seeing at the scene of the April fire.

Yates says the fire department has 39 engines and, on average, about seven engines need service on a weekly basis.

The Nashville Fire Department tells FOX 17 News they’ll be receiving several new apparatuses for fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) operations.

They say three new engines have arrived and are being processed for final completion, but Yates says he's more worried about how they regulate the equipment, more so than having enough of it.

“When we get new equipment in here we’ll be ok for a while, but if there’s not a change in plan or there’s not a change in the business model about how we rotate engines and trucks into reserve status we’ll be right back into this shape in a year or two,” Yates explained.

Yates emphasizes the system needs to change for the safety of all parties involved.

The Nashville Fire Department told FOX 17 News once more of the new engines they ordered to arrive. These new engines will significantly upgrade the fleet that need service.

The fire department also said they would never put any personnel in equipment that has been deemed unsafe.

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