ATLANTA — The Atlanta City Council Finance Committee voted to approve more than $16 million in funding Wednesday to purchase much-needed new vehicles for the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department.
Fire Station #30 on Cleveland Avenue in southwest Atlanta currently sits empty.
There are no trucks in the bay and no firefighters in sight.
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The situation was the same at two other fire stations in northwest Atlanta earlier this week.
Atlanta City Council member Dustin Hillis serves District 9 which includes stations #22 and #23, which are also currently vacant.
“At one point, three of my five stations did not have a firefighter and apparatus in it,” Hillis said.
Hillis, also chair of the Public Safety Committee, heard from Fire Chief Rod Smith this week that more than a third of the city’s aging fleet is now out for lengthy service.
Smith said engines across the city are down because of equipment failure.
“When you shut down stations, move resources around, we are unfortunately increasing response times,” Hillis said.
Hillis introduced the legislation to spend $16.4 million to buy 14 new fire apparatus, including 7 fire engines, two tractor-drawn aerial fire trucks, and five battalion/division chief vehicles.
But that won’t meet the need immediately. Far from it, as new fire equipment is in short supply everywhere.
“We’re not going to see an engine, absolute best case scenario, 18 months, but more likely 24, even 36 months because of the national backlog,” Hillis said.
Hillis said the city hasn’t added any new fire trucks in the last four to five years.
“So we have a lot of catching up to do. So this is the council’s attempt to address this backlog and get us on a sustainable schedule within the next four years,” Hillis said.
Over that span of years, Hillis said they hope to replace the entire fire fleet in the department.
The vote will now move to the full council for a vote during their first meeting in November.
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