HOUSTON – Nearly a year after KHOU 11 Investigates exposed aging fire trucks may be putting lives at risk, Houston Fire Department is getting millions of dollars in new equipment.
On Wednesday, four brand new fire engines totaling more than $2 million were delivered to the city.
They're new trucks for a department that's fallen far behind its goal of replacing fire apparatus every 10 years.
KHOU 11 Investigates discovered that as of March 2017, more than a quarter of HFD's fire engines were more than 10 years old.
The situation involving ladder trucks was even worse. City records showed nearly 40 percent were a decade or older.
Frequent breakdowns sometimes forced firefighters out of engines and into SUVs to respond to calls because of a lack of working trucks.
On Wednesday, Fire Chief Samuel Pena called the new engines a first step toward fixing the problem and ensuring help will be there in an emergency.
“Every time a unit breaks down and we have to be out of service, to go down to the shop and it takes us several hours to switch over, that's a unit that's not available for dispatch,” said Pena. “So the goal is to keep units available. A new fleet, a newer fleet, will allow us to have more availability.”
The department expects four additional new engines will be delivered in March.
In all, Pena thinks it will take at least seven years to get all the city's fire trucks replaced and back on a regular replacement schedule.
On Wednesday, the president of the city's firefighters's union said while four new trucks will help, he doesn't believe it will solve the aging fleet issue.