WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched a major push to modernize the Fort Drum Fire Department’s rapidly aging and obsolete emergency response apparatus. In the past three years, 5 of the installation’s fire engines and its backup structural apparatus have failed to pass inspection and have not yet been repaired and replaced, leaving local first responders seriously impaired. Additionally, the installation is in desperate need of a new ladder truck, which it can’t currently get under the Army’s policy. Schumer said the aged fire vehicles has put a serious strain on the Fort Drum Fire Department, which protects nearly 20,000 active duty military personnel and their families.
Therefore, Schumer called on the Army to expedite the planned delivery of Fort Drum’s new engine truck, currently set for the coming November, to ensure that local first responders have all the tools and resources necessary to do their job safely and efficiently. Additionally, Schumer argued that the Army should change the policy preventing Fort Drum from qualifying for a new ladder truck, or to consider exempting Fort Drum from that policy.
“Our brave firefighters at Fort Drum are on the frontlines, risking their lives to defend the men and women who defend our nation home and abroad. To think these courageous firefighters are left to do their jobs with obsolete emergency vehicles that are over two decades old is not acceptable,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why today I’m urging the Army to expedite the planned delivery of Fort Drum’s new fire engine, and also urging the Army to do every thing in its power to help Fort Drum Fire Department acquire a desperately-needed ladder truck, to better respond to emergencies of all shapes and sizes. I’ll always fight tooth and nail to ensure our local heroes, our first responders, have all the tools and resources they need to do their job safely and efficiently.”
Schumer explained that the majority of Fort Drum Fire Dept.’s obsolete emergency apparatus and emergency response vehicles are more than twenty years old, with the oldest being built in 1987. Currently, through the Department of Defense and U.S. Army, the Fort Drum Fire Dept. is scheduled to receive a new engine truck in November of 2020. However, the absence of such a working engine truck has forced the Fort Drum Fire Dept. to rely on equipment from neighboring communities.
Additionally, Schumer explained, the Fort Drum Fire Dept. does not meet the requirements for a new ladder truck from the Army. In order for an installation’s fire department to be given a ladder truck, the base must have at least five buildings that are more than four stories tall and lack sprinkler systems, which Fort Drum does not have. However, Schumer argued, Fort Drum and its first responders do not have the proper equipment to reach the fourth story of their buildings, putting both occupants and the lives of firefighters in harm’s way. Schumer argued that it is imperative that the federal government provide firefighters at military installations with the resources they need to protect the military members who protect the United States.
A copy of Schumer’s letter to the Army appears below.
Dear Secretary McCarthy:
I write to request your immediate attention and assistance to ensure the Fort Drum Fire Department is sufficiently equipped with emergency response apparatus, specifically a ladder truck and engine truck. In the past three years, several of Fort Drum Fire Dept.’s emergency apparatus have failed inspection and have been unable to be repaired or replaced, including its backup structural apparatus and five firetrucks.
The majority of Fort Drum Fire Dept.’s obsolete emergency apparatus and emergency response vehicles are more than twenty years old, the oldest being built in 1987. While the fire department is scheduled to receive a new engine truck this November, its absence has forced the department to rely on equipment from neighboring communities. Additionally, it is my understanding that Fort Drum Fire Department fails to meet the requirements for a ladder truck as the base does not have at least five buildings that are more than four stories tall and lack sprinkler systems. However, they do not have the proper equipment to reach the fourth story of their buildings, putting both occupant and firefighter lives at risk. These urgent issues have put a serious strain on Fort Drum Fire Dept.’s resources, which protects nearly 20,000 active duty military personnel and their family members. It is imperative that we provide our firefighters with the resources they need to protect the military members who protect our nation.
Therefore, I respectfully ask that you expedite the delivery of a new engine truck for the Fort Drum Fire Department, and thoroughly review and, if deemed appropriate, change the existing Army policy which sets the requirements for fire departments to qualify for ladder trucks. If changing the existing policy is not possible, I urge you to consider Fort Drum for an exemption to policy so that its fire department can be authorized to receive a ladder truck.
Thank you for your consideration of this request and your commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our service members. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions.