Ed Smith, an official with the D.C. firefighters union, claims that many ambulances in the District are either out of service or have dysfunctional air-conditioning systems. Smith claims that the breakdowns amount to an emergency that must be dealt with immediately.
An example of the problem: One truck that was ordered to stay in service on Tuesday had an interior temperature of 105 degrees at 3:15 p.m. "This is an unusual situation," Smith said. The department is due to get "another ten fire trucks later this summer, but I'm not sure if that will be enough."
D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe maintains the public is at no danger. He says he hasn't received a report of a truck this hot but admits that during a heat wave this intense, trucks do run hotter than usual.
"Some of the ambulances' air-conditioning could be failing," Ellerbe said. "We're trying to get them down as quickly as possible"
At the Southwest D.C. repair shop where city vehicles come in for service, an ABC7 reporter glimpsed at least a dozen emergency trucks before being escorted out.
Just hours later, Ellerbe was inspecting trucks and answering questions about the breakdowns during an unforgiving heat advisory. "The public is in no danger, ready to respond to any call if necessary," Ellerbe said.