The sanitation department lost three garbage trucks in a fire over the weekend, only days after the City of Dallas launched a new five-day collection schedule.
The fire happened at the Northwest Dallas equipment storage and maintenance site. The cause of the fire is unknown but it left three trucks out of commission and damaged a fourth. According to Sanitation Director Jay Council, the trucks had been in service only eight hours before the fire.
“It was a cold January morning so it’s kind of a head-scratcher at this point but we’re still awaiting the results of the investigation,” Council told NBC 5 DFW.
Previously, The Dallas Express reported some of the troubles city residents were noticing with the new five-day collection routes.
According to resident Tamia Hall, sanitation crews had not collected trash from her street for an entire month, regardless of her numerous complaints to the city and their promises to come.
With these garbage trucks out of service, city council members acknowledged that the task of trash collection has just become even more challenging.
“This is tough for our city and we’re already down trucks that we need,” Council Member Cara Mendelsohn told NBC 5.
The Dallas City Council Environment and Sustainability Committee is hosting a special meeting Thursday. Trash collection is a top issue on the list. Committee Chair Paula Blackmon believes that this meeting will give everyone clarity on the situation at hand.
“[I]t’s a chance for everybody to ask questions about what happened, how did this happen and how are we going to get out of it,” Blackmon said.
While Council, the sanitation director, acknowledged that last month’s cold weather was a major setback for sanitation crews and equipment, he insisted that very few customers have been getting missed, saying, “Historically and currently that margin of error is less than 1% of our total collection points.”
The new five-day collection routes, as previously reported, were implemented on December 5 in order to allow for more efficient use of equipment, shorten the workday for crews, and allow for earlier maintenance on equipment. Yet the complaints keep rolling in.
“What I want to understand is how we got here and what steps are being taken to remedy it and what areas of town have been hit hardest,” Blackmon said.
According to Council, apart from the four affected by the fire, the sanitation department has 15 garbage trucks that need to be replaced. While additional trucks have been ordered, the processing time for new garbage trucks to be delivered is two years.