At last week’s Baldwin County Commission meeting, county Fire Chief Troy Reynolds presented a detailed report to the commissioners about major fire equipment operated by Baldwin County. The report included discussion and pictures of the age, condition and status of all the primary firefighting vehicles available to the residents of Baldwin County in case of emergency.
Chief Reynolds’ report described an aging fleet of fire trucks with some significant faults. The verbal description of the trucks and the pictures were very disturbing. The mileage on several of the trucks is unknown because the speedometers have not worked for several years. Equipment doors on several trucks are warped and difficult to secure because of age and extreme use. Pressure gauges on many trucks were described as erratic, showing approximate pressures. Pictures were shown of malfunctioning gauges, broken mounts, non-standard fittings, warped doors and broken/deteriorating interiors.
My conclusion is clear: Our county fire fighters are valiantly protecting us with aging equipment that has received much less than full maintenance. Our dedicated fire fighters are doing their job 24 hours a day with aging and incomplete equipment provided and maintained by Baldwin County.As our dedicated firemen have already demonstrated, they will continue to aggressively serve without complaining.
It is difficult to determine if our safety has been compromised by our county leaders’ long standing decisions not to replace our aging fire trucks. Decisions to not maintain our current fire trucks to full operational capability is unreasonable.
It is also difficult to determine if our fire fighters are in increased danger because of equipment that has known mechanical faults. Consider fire trucks speeding down the highway without knowing their speed. Consider the danger of warped equipment doors opening in transit to a fire and spewing equipment on the roads, and then necessary equipment not being available to the fire fighter when he arrives at the fire. Consider judging approximately what the fire hose water pressure is while someone’s home is burning.
We should all be concerned with our county’s decisions about necessary fire equipment and the essential maintenance of existing equipment.
Fire safety and protection is not a situation that should be allowed to be compromised by county decision makers. The county had enough money to purchase new tractors and a new paving machine. Is a fire truck and our safety less important than mowing the grass?
Yes, the county has non-specific plans to replace three fire trucks with future SPLOST money. How will the $1 million that Baldwin County owes the city affect our safety and other essential services?
Henry R. Craig