Highland Park could use donated fire truck donated sitting idle - New York News

Highland Park could use fire truck donated to Detroit sitting idle

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HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. (WJBK) -

Remember Big Joe Rippolone the sewer king. That guy that wanted to donate his big green fire truck to the City of Detroit, but the mayor wouldn't call him back.

The city eventually took the truck last year. The fire commissioner promised to put it right to work.

"Within a month, and I'm hoping definitely by Angels' Night," said Don Austin back in September.

Maybe he meant Angels' Night this year because the truck is sitting propping up a broom saving nobody's life.

"That's not what we had in mind at all, Charlie. I was hoping I would see this thing on the road saving lives, doing more than it's doing right now," said Rippolone.

"Mr. Bing, Mr. Mayor, if you're not using it, we sure could here in Highland Park," said Fire Chief David Peek.

Does Rippolone want Detroit to give the fire truck back so he can give it to somebody that will use it?

"I think that if Highland Park needs it and they could use it, I would say definitely give it to them."

Rippolone originally donated his rig after he saw our story about the little girl who burned up in a fire after a fire truck showed up that couldn't pump water.

"I believe to the bottom of my heart everything worked as it should," Austin said at that time.

Well, guess what? Things have only gotten worse in the Detroit Fire Department. So really, what gives? Don't blame the mechanics. Those guys are wizards keeping it together with bubblegum and bailing wire. Problem is, management has cut them to the bone, and so this lands in the suits' lap.

Back to the big green fire truck, what did Rippolone have done on the rig?

"We had everything done. We had the tires. We had the undercarriage. We had the ladder serviced. We had the hydraulic lines replaced. I mean from soup to nuts, we had the rims, the tires, everything was overhauled."

Meanwhile, back in Highland Park, their ladder truck failed a safety inspection four years ago and they're still using it.

So, they're not using Rippolone's truck in Detroit, but you know what they are doing?

"If it's a still air day, the exposure's in good shape, I'm talking about sometimes let it burn," Austin has told me in the past.

Okay, if you're going to let the town burn down and you're not going to use the truck Rippolone gave you, then the righteous and competent thing to do would be to give it to someone who will.

"We're not going to let nothing burn if we can help it," Peek said.

I've been trying to reach the mayor for two weeks to ask him to free the fire truck. Finally, I went to a press conference on Thursday to ask him in person, but he left before I could ask.

So, what do you say Mayor Bing? How about freeing the big green fire truck and giving it to Highland Park. It's the right thing to do.

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