Updated: 08-09-2004 02:18:01 PM

Ryder Truck Rental Enrages Head of FDNY Union


CYNTHIA R. FAGEN
Courtesy of New York Post

A Brooklyn FDNY Emergency Service truck used to carry heavy equipment to building collapses and major disasters has been replaced by a cost-cutting Ryder rental truck, enraging the head of the firefighters union.

In addition, the truck, which is white, now requires a police cruiser to escort it to the scene because the truck has no emergency lights, siren or radio, said Uniformed Firefighters Association president Stephen Cassidy.

He said that adding to the confusion is that the FDNY logo is overshadowed by the Ryder logo.

Cassidy said that because of the double markings, the truck was searched by cops on the Triborough Bridge as it was being driven to its new home at Rescue 2 in Crown Heights Friday evening.

"They didn't believe it was an firetruck," Cassidy said.

"[Homeland Security Secretary] Tom Ridge said terrorists might try to pass themselves off as Emergency Service workers," he said. "They [cops] were right to search the truck.

"It's a joke. It has no flashing lights, no emergency siren and no department radio. If a bomb goes off, they get called in."

The rig, which is a second-responder vehicle, carries lumber for supports, ropes, pulleys and hydraulic equipment, is housed at Ladder 132.

"This mayor has slashed the budget and the public's and firefighters' safety is compromised. Now we have the wrong equipment to protect the city," Cassidy said.

But FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon said the rental truck is only a temporary measure until the new official trucks on order arrive in a few months.

"It's not a firetruck. It's not intended to be one," he said. "It's carrying lumber and associated tools and equipment for the purpose of shoring up buildings and structures following a collapse."

"With all the terrorism threats, we thought it was a good idea to use these trucks temporarily until the new replacement trucks come in," Gribbon said.

"Look, these trucks are not first responders, they are not going to roll up to an emergency scene.

"It's not like you get there before someone dies," he said.

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