May 172013
 

Purple areas show those that a ladder truck can reach within the national standard of eight minutes under a New Orleans Fire Department redeployment plan set to take place this summer. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Despite official assurances that the removal of a ladder-equipped fire truck from the station on Arabella is part of the best possible future for the New Orleans Fire Department, Uptown residents who live nearby continue to worry that their level of fire protection is being reduced.

As part of a general redeployment of firefighters around the city, the ladder truck at Arabella will be taken out of service around the end of June, fire officials have said. A pumper truck — which actually delivers water, and is considered the most important to have on scene at any fire — will remain active at the Arabella station, and the rare fire calls that require a ladder will still be sent one from either the station at Carrollton and Claiborne or the station on Martin Luther King Boulevard.

“Companies are still coming,” said Assistant Superintendent Tim McConnell of the ladder trucks. “It’s just going to take them a little bit longer to get here.”

This plan, however, puts a sliver of Uptown that runs generally between Magazine Street and the river, from Napoleon Avenue to Audubon Park, outside the recommended eight-minute travel time for a ladder truck. Some worried about the safety of major structures like Children’s Hospital, though McConnell said hospitals are generally some of the best protected buildings in a city. Others said they didn’t feel the plan adequately accounted for the density of the population in that corridor, though McConnell said the location of the ladder trucks is based on the highest number of calls that require them.

Other residents said they were frustrated that the fire department did not include their input at an earlier point, in case they could have helped come up with other alternatives.

“I agree that there’s a lot that went into that study, but there’s a lot that didn’t go into that study,” said resident Susan Krantz.

McConnell apologized for not including the residents sooner, but City Councilwoman Susan Guidry pointed out that some areas of the city are much farther away from a ladder truck, particularly Lakeview and New Orleans East. What is important now, Guidry said, is finding ways to mitigate the change, promising to explore suggestions from residents such as restoring a program that gave emergency vehicles green lights at intersections or granting them access through potentially faster routes through the port.

To read our live coverage of the meeting, see below.

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  • http://twitter.com/AhContraire AhContraire

    Street Lights STILL not fixed.

    NOPD number of police down to historic lows.
    Traffic lights not fixed.
    Street Potholes get bigger and more.
    City Hall’s Parking Enforcement Div issuing parking tickets to get every dollar they can OR they fire meter maids.
    911 wait times and response times getting very LONG.
    Police response times getting very long.
    FIRE LADDER TRUCK response times increase.

    Yet, some on the city council just seem to give excuses and promises and just can’t admit the city doesn’t have any money cause businesses are leaving due to crime, panhandlers, homeless scaring away customers, Section 8 abusing the system, lack of real response from City Hall, NOPD consent decrees, OPP acting as a hotel for prisoners, permitting obstacle course, Second Line Parades financed with EBT and Food Stamps, mass shootings on Mother’s Day in broad daylight and directly in front of police and so on.

  • http://twitter.com/elsbet Beth

    I’m wondering about the phrase “the rare fire calls that require a ladder”; shouldn’t that be attributed to a source? Is it that rare for the ladder truck to be called on? It certainly showed up to my house when we had a fire two years ago.

    This “sliver” is dense, with old wooden structures butting right up against each other, and along Magazine, actually connected with each other. There are a lot of restaurants and institutions with powerful stoves and other other fire risks. Does anyone recall how quickly the fire spread on the other end of Magazine, destroying the Cat Practice and buildings adjacent to it, in just minutes? Imagine waiting for a ladder truck from Claiborne and Carrollton to navigate the lanes closed for construction all along Claiborne, down Broadway, along St. Charles. Traffic is always dense down the streets leading to the river. This plan is unrealistic.

    From what I read here, McConnell and Guidry came out ready to diminish citizens’ concerns. There was no citizen input during the two years that went into this plan; that must have been by design. Now, when people are asking questions and seeking input, they’re being framed as wanting to deprive other districts of service. That’s just not good government; it’s not even good rhetoric.

    • http://twitter.com/elsbet Beth

      I think you got rooked on that “rare call that requires a ladder” statement; your most recent fire story, on Magazine, has the ladder truck in the photo.