Only Detroit Fire Department boat still in water; truck trouble persists

Equipment problems have plagued the Detroit Fire Department for years.

The promise of new trucks is still on hold and now another important piece of equipment is in jeopardy. 

The Detroit Fire Department's only boat is not winterized and truck troubles also persist.

"We're always fixing them," said Tom Ilich, Detroit fire truck mechanic.

FOX 2: "We're told the city finally has money to fix them is that true?"

"Yep, we're fixing them," Ilich said.

Before Ilich escorted FOX 2 out of the building, we got a peek inside Detroit's Fire Department repair shop - a graveyard of old broken fire trucks.

FOX 2 is told they are still breaking down faster than mechanics can fix them. Fire sources tell FOX 2  the department is moving the working rigs around to different fire companies so firefighters can properly respond to emergencies.

No one can seem to help these old fire trucks from breaking down - but the Detroit Fire Department can protect and prevent some of the working equipment from failing by taking care of it..

That's why sources tell FOX 2 many are concerned Detroit's only fire and rescue boat is still floating in the icy waters of the Detroit River.

Every October the Curtis Randolf goes out of service and is winterized, stored safely in another location and bubbled which means a hose blows air into the water so ice can't freeze around it.

This winter, nothing as been done to move and protect the only fire fighting rescue boat from Detroit to Cleveland.

FOX 2: "Do you fix that too?"

Ilich: "We fix it."

FOX 2: "Should it have been winterized?"

Ilich: "I think it has been."

FOX 2: "No it's still floating in the water."

Ilich: "You have to talk to management about that."

FOX 2 tried. Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins instead sent a status update. 

It says there is an an agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard to move the fire boat to their Mt. Elliott location. Permission by the Coast Guard was granted on Jan. 5, which begs the question - why nothing was done earlier to protect the boat. It is valued at close to $1 million.

As for the fire rigs ...

"Yes, the trucks are old," Ilich said. "They need new trucks. I don't know we have some ordered but none on the way I know of."

Jenkins claims post bankruptcy - the Detroit Fire Department is investing $14 million to upgrade it's aging fleet. The city has ordered 10 new rigs slated to be here by the end of the summer.

And $1. 2 million will be used to repair the old trucks - hopefully to get all of these back out on the streets.

If the boat is damaged, there is no money to buy a replacement - which would cost between $7 and $10 million,

FOX 2 was told that by next week, the fire department wants to take the boat out of the water and the Coast Guard agreement will take place. 

There is concern that chunks of ice floating down the river could damage the boat.

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