Firefighters question why truck purchased for Kapolei in use elsewhere

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A vital piece of equipment, purchased for a growing Leeward community, isn’t being used there and firefighters want to know why.

Six years ago, the city bought a ladder truck for the East Kapolei fire station. We’re told the city spent about $700,000 for it.

The Hawaii Fire fighters Association says Kapolei is one of the busiest areas, but the truck hasn’t been used in East Kapolei.

So where’s the truck now and who’s getting to use it?

The firefighters union says it’s been reaching out to the Honolulu Fire Department for an answer for years.

“If a truck is not there, it does make a huge difference,” said Robert Lee, Hawaii Fire fighters Association president.

Across the street from the East Kapolei fire station is Ka Makana Alii. Lee says there was an alarm incident at the shopping center recently, but the only engine assigned to East Kapolei was out. A tower truck from Kapolei had to make its way over, delaying response time by a few minutes.

“Can those few minutes really make a difference?” KHON2 asked.

“Oh, absolutely,” he replied. “When you look at life and death, four to six minutes, if somebody stops breathing, you can incur brain damage and into death.”

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On Thursday, we learned the ladder truck is being used by other fire stations around the island.

The Honolulu Fire Department says when the truck was originally purchased, “development in the Kapolei area did not occur as fast as projected.” It says East Kapolei ranks 30 out of 43 for busiest areas.

The truck is currently used as relief for fire stations across Oahu. We found it at another fire station — the “43” for East Kapolei is covered up.

We asked, if East Kapolei needs a ladder truck, how long does it take for the nearest one to get there? HFD says the response time is four minutes.

“We’re opening Ka Makana Alii officially tonight. Businesses are coming online since last year alone, we’ve had all these new entities in the area. There’s definitely going to be a need for something like that,” said Honolulu City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine.

HFD said, “Now that development has increased in the East Kapolei area… HFD intends to station and staff this fiscal year.”

“Put public safety first,” Lee said. “The resources we have to work with is critical. It determines how well you do your job, how well you keep firefighters safe, how well you keep the public safe.”

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