CLEVELAND, OH – The Cleveland fire department has no working air compressors to fill oxygen tanks on the backs of firefighters.
All of the department’s air compressors have broken over the last year, forcing firefighters to drive the department’s air truck to Valley View every day to get enough air to fill the tanks, Tim Corcoran, the new president of the firefighter’s union, Local 93, said.
“We have zero ability to make breathing air in the city of Cleveland,” Corcoran said. “We cannot fill our air tanks.”
A city spokesman confirmed the air compressors were broken, but did not respond to follow-up questions.
Each firefighter is assigned two air tanks, that typically last 10 to 15 minutes each, Corcoran said. The department has six air compressors at stations around the city to refill the firefighter’s tanks.
The department’s main compressor broke last February, Corcoran said. Five smaller compressors also broke one-by-one.
Ten days ago, the final compressor broke.
The city and Parma reached an agreement to let Cleveland firefighters fill up their air truck at the Parma Fire Department, but that agreement fell through, Corcoran said.
Now, firefighters have to drive to Valley View Fire Department to fill their tank up. That process takes four hours, Corcoran said.
Fire officials have given the union no timeline for when the issue may be fixed, Corcoran said. The department fights an average of three fires a day, relying solely on the air truck to fill oxygen tanks.
“[The air truck] is not designed to handle the needs of a major city division,” Corcoran said. “What happens when our air truck breaks?”