Unused fire truck churning up controversy

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

HURLEY, MS (WLOX) - When the East Central Fire Department got the newest addition to their fleet, Engine 10, back in 2004, they never thought it would spend the next four years in a garage.

"When we first bought it, we were happy with it,"  said East Central Fire Chief Corky Tigner.  "After the first 30 days, everything started going wrong with it."

Shortly afterward, the truck was parked in a garage at East Central's Big Point substation. It hasn't moved since. Members of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors only heard about the state of the truck a few weeks ago.

"There's no excuse for this kind of misuse of taxpayer money," said District 4 Supervisor Tommy Brodnax.

Brodnax said it's not just off the streets, it's completely shielded from the public.

"I went to take some pictures of it last Friday, and I couldn't," Brodnax said. "They have it locked up. It's unaccessible to the public, and it's a public vehicle."

It's not just Brodnax who's upset about Engine 10.  A picture of the truck posted on www.mywlox.com has already generated nearly 30 comments. Almost all of them express outrage at the idle truck and demand answers from authorities. Tigner said the answer is a simple one. The truck is broken.

"It is dangerous to use," Tigner said.  "It would either hurt or kill one of our firemen."

Tigner gave WLOX a three page long list of complaints he has with Engine 10. They range from a faulty engine to a water pump that he says once broke while firefighters were trying to save a home.

"This department voted not to use the truck again," Tigner said. "When they voted, I took it out of service on their vote, not mine."

Tigner said he hired a lawyer four years ago to file suit against the truck's manufacturer, E-One, who he said refuses to replace the truck. But a firefighter who wouldn't go on camera said the lawsuit wasn't filed until recently.

Calls to East Central Fire Department's lawyers weren't returned. East Central's County Supervisor Manley Barton said he believes the contraversy is a miscommunication, but he promises to get to the bottom of the issue.

"I will team up with him as much as I can to see that this issue is resolved in the best interest of the community," said Brodnax.

Engine 10's pricetag was $157,000. Tigner said even though Engine 10 is out of commission, there are still plenty of trucks to meet East Central Fire Department's needs.

For a picture and comments on Engine 10, log on to www.mywlox.com.