Dallas Fire-Rescue (DFR) is resorting to renting trucks amidst its current fire truck shortage.
The second largest fire department in Texas, DFR typically has 23 fully-equipped firetrucks shared across 59 fire stations.
Dallas Firefighters Association President Jim McDade said that West Dallas Station 36 was one of several fire stations last Wednesday that did not have a firetruck on duty.
McDade claimed that in his 17-year-long career as a firefighter in the city, he has never been in this situation.
“It’s a combination of not maintaining apparatus over the years, not being able to fix them, not being able to get parts to fix them and having accidents,” McDade said, speaking with NBC 5.
DFR Chief Dominique Artis confirmed that the department is short-staffed on mechanics. He further stated that some vehicles were damaged in the August flooding.
“As I talk to other Fire Chiefs around the area, a lot of them are having the same issues,” Artis told NBC 5.
McDade stated that seven older aerial ladder firetrucks are normally kept in reserve in case front-line trucks break down or get into a wreck. However, all seven are now in service, and DFR still faces a shortage.
Fire equipment vendor Siddons-Martin is now communicating with DFR officials about renting trucks to meet the city’s needs, confirmed a company executive last Wednesday.
When buying new firetrucks, fire departments often purchase semi-custom rigs to best fit their crews and toolsets. A small unequipped fire engine can range from $250,000 to $350,00. A fully-equipped truck can cost roughly twice that, ranging from $550,000 to $650,000.
The typical life span for a small unequipped truck is 10 years. Bigger trucks can last 15 years, about the time when maintenance costs become greater paying for a new truck.
The Dallas City Council endorsed a $1.1 million budget amendment last week to help replace equipment. It also approved another $1.75 million for additional maintenance at fire stations.
It is unclear whether the City’s move will be able to realistically alleviate the shortage in a timely manner.