Polk fire trucks breaking faster than they can fix them, but is the manufacturer to blame?

Posted at 6:35 PM, Jan 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-04 18:35:31-05

Fire trucks in Polk County are breaking down faster than they can fix them, but officials don’t believe it’s just normal wear and tear.

The county has 12 trucks all from the same manufacturer that need the exact same repairs with five to 10 years left on their lifespan.

To make matters worse, they can’t get their hands on the parts to fix them.

“It’s the entire suspension unit,” said Chuck Cheatham, who is in charge of the entire fleet of county vehicles.

Cheatham said the problem involves 12 Ferrara fire trucks that have independent suspension in the front, as opposed to a single axle.

The components are going bad.

The county already took four trucks off the road, and expect eight more will need the same work done.

“I think it’s safe to say that we had a suspension that wasn’t compatible with this particular truck for whatever reason,” he said.

On Tuesday, county approved to spend 300-thousand dollars to refit all the trucks with the more traditional, single axle. But it begs the question: should taxpayers have to foot the bill?

Ferrara, the maker of the troubled trucks, is based in Louisiana.

So far, no one from the company has returned voice messages and e-mails from ABC Action News.

“Legally, we bought a truck with a one year warranty, but we do have our legal department looking at it to see if we have some legal recourse,” Cheatham said.

According to the county, Ferrara is not willing to help pay for repairs.

The good news: the agency has enough back-up trucks to manage through this setback for now.