Report: Thousands of firehouses around the US in desperate need of repair

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A report by the National Fire Prevention Association finds that thousands of firehouses around the United States are old and in desperate need of repair.

The report found that 43% of all firehouses in the country are more than 40 years old. The firehouses are dealing with issues like aging buildings and broken equipment, with billions of dollars in repairs needed.

Jersey City Fire Chief Steven McGill says that he is not surprised by the report. He managers 15 firehouses and says that many of them date back to the 1800s.

“Our oldest house that is still in use is 169 years old,” he says.

The study also looked at things that Jersey City has had to upgrade in their firehouses, like the exhaust system. McGill says that after Superstorm Sandy, the fire department came up with a backup power plan. He says that another plan the department is working on is separate facilities for male and female firefighters.

But when it comes to the buildings and the fire trucks themselves, "They're actually getting bigger - to be safer and to hold more equipment, so the last engine that we ordered, it was through a federal grant. The one we wanted to get we couldn't fit in the house,” says McGill.

This is the same issue that the Township of Washington Fire Department is dealing with.

“In order to replace that we need bigger entryways. Right now, our entryways are 9 feet, 8 inches. Most fire trucks now are way above 10 feet,” says Township of Washington Fire Director William Bilias.

The town is now building a $6 million firehouse, which will also include safety upgrades.

Jersey City will also renovate and replace some of their firehouses. But McGill says that they will mostly remain in the same locations.

"Back then when they built the firehouse because they didn't have the technology that they have now, they put firehouses throughout the city where they thought they could respond the quickest,” he says. “So even today they're still in the best places.”

Jersey City is on track to open a new firehouse next month and has plans to replace and repair three others in the next two years.

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