NEW PORT RICHEY
The city may be in the market for a new fire truck after Fire Chief Alex Onishenko said in a budget session last week that the fleet is falling apart.
Three of the city's four fire trucks — including a ladder unit — have broken down recently, leaving the department with only one truck in service, Onishenko told the City Council.
"I'm almost embarrassed to talk about it. I don't know how we can keep doing this," he said.
Two of the broken-down vehicles were purchased in the 1990s and could be out of commission for weeks for repairs. Onishenko estimated it would cost the city around $400,000 for a new engine and $750,000 for a new ladder truck.
In the meantime, Onishenko said he will rely on backup from Pasco County should an emergency arise where his crew will need more than one truck.
"It's a problem. But we have a good relationship with the county," he told the Times.
The news didn't sit well with City Council member Chopper Davis, who previously served on the city's fire pension board. He advocated for the council to find increased funding for the fire department this budget season.
"We're jeopardizing the safety of our citizens," Davis said.
Deputy Mayor Bill Phillips asked Onishenko to present options to the council for finding funds for a truck. He also said the council may need to re-examine enacting a fire special assessment in the city, an idea the council tabled in May. Phillips added that possible "rainy day" reserves could be tapped into.
"I think it's raining on the fire department already," Davis responded.