Pittsburgh Needs More Ladder Trucks, Says Fire Chief

The city’s fire department needs several new ladder trucks, each of which cost $600,000, according to the fire chief and the president of the firefighters union.

Pittsburgh’s contract with the Fire Fighters Local 1 union requires that the city have 11 ladder trucks available at all times. The trucks’ 100-foot ladders are used to fight fires on roofs or to help people stuck in tall buildings.

But most of the existing ladder trucks, sometimes called aerials, are more than 16 years old, according to union president Joe King and fire chief Michael Huss. The fire department doesn’t have any backup trucks if one needs to be serviced, they said.

“We allowed our fleet service to get in such (a) deplorable condition that we have no extra aerial trucks,” King said.

Pittsburgh has one ladder truck on order and it should arrive next year, but the new truck won’t solve the problem, Huss said.

Earlier this month, Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy said he’s considering borrowing $25 million for capital needs, including fire equipment, but that would mean an additional $3 million to $4 million in annual debt payments for the city, which already has a tight operating budget.