A Houston television station reports the Houston Fire Department lacked many pieces of equipment firefighters needed to perform high-water rescues.
According to the report, the department owns only one high-water rescue vehicle in a city that experiences flooding on a near-regular basis. The report also showed HFD lost nearly 30 pieces of equipment during Hurricane Harvey, including six fire engines classified as total losses.
A press statement from Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena revealed the six fire engines were lost largely because “they’re not built for a high-water environment.”
Even though the department had one high-water rescue vehicle, Patrick Lancton, president of the Houston Firefighters Association, told Channel 2, “The one high-water vehicle that the department maintains was not operational when it was delivered to the station. There were mechanical problems with it.”
According to Chief Pena, HFD owns only six rescue boats, one of which was lost in the storm. He stated the department needed at least ten to twelve to be distributed around the city’s flood-prone areas.
“We don’t even have enough specialized equipment for the expected floods,” Pena said.
A report from May also shows much of the department’s other vital equipment is reaching a critical stage; fire engines, ambulances, and other vehicles have broken down going to and from emergencies.
Neither HFD nor the City of Houston have announced plans as to how to bring the department’s equipment and policies up to speed in the event of another catastrophic storm.