Arcata Fire’s gear is crumbling, unsafe and costly to keep going

CONKED The vital Logistics Unit broke down to the tune of $4,000 in July. Grant funds are being sought for repair. AFD photo

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE\ARCATA – The Arcata Fire District’s aging apparatus are breaking down, with several of them inoperable and out of service.

At one point last week, 44 percent of the cash-strapped district’s main firefighting vehicles were out of commission. Some vehicles will remain so until the district finds a way to pay for repairs.

AFD Battalion Chief Sean Campbell estimated that the district’s has about $63,400 in deferred vehicle maintenance.

Ladder truck

One piece of equipment that may never see service again in the district is the 2001 American Lafrance ladder truck, known as T8283.

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The ladder truck is one of three that exist in Humboldt County. Humboldt Bay Fire in Eureka has a ladder truck, as does the Fortuna Fire Department. They are used for rescues from multi-story buildings and for dousing flames from an elevated platform.

T8283 has had a whole series of mechanical problems. “We had major repairs on our ladder truck last year after the platform would drop below the windshield, blocking the view of the driver,” Campbell said. “We actually had an OSHA complaint filed against the district over this issue.”

The district spent $9,000 on repairs. But last week, when a company inspected the truck for certification, it failed, which means the truck may have to be sent out of the area and receive $10,000 to $15,000 in additional repairs.

“It’s nickel and dimeing us to death,” Campbell said.

But it’s not just the maintenance expenses that may doom T8283. “We don’t have time to train with it,” Campbell said.

With its minimal staffing, rotating station closures and increased call volume, the crew doesn’t have enough time to properly train on the ladder truck. This presents a safety problem.

During trainings, crews have accidentally slammed the platform at the end of the ladder into walls. During a fire at the Arcata Presbyterian Church in September 2017, Campbell said the ladder made contact with what at first was 



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