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D.C. BLS Ambulances Out of Service as Hot Weather Arrives

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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) - In the midst of this extreme heat, the DC Fire and EMS is facing a stiff challenge. The firefighters' union says seven of the city's 25 basic life support units are out of service.

Members of Ambulance 20 at the Tenleytown station in Northwest said they were extremely busy Tuesday, with the majority of the calls being heat related.

The DC Firefighters Association says the ambulances, 28% of the city's fleet, have mechanical problems.

DC Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbee says 10 new vehicles are on order.

"The extreme weather conditions are presenting a challenge for us and our fleet maintenance mechanics,"  Ellerbee said, adding all but two of the front line vehicles were back in service by the afternoon and those last two were expected to be running by the end of the day.

The DC Firefighters Association says there is no longer a reserve fleet to depend on. They're broken down as well.

9NEWS NOW counted six ambulances out of service in the back of the fire house on New Jersey Avenue. The one ambulance which was dispatched from that location was without air conditioning.

"Some of the ambulances' air conditioning may be failing, but we feel like it's better to transport a person to the hospital right away than not take a call because the ambulance's air conditioning may be out, and we're trying to get them down as quickly as possible to get the ambulance's air conditioning fixed," Ellerbee said.

A member of the DC Firefighters Association emailed a picture to 9NEWS NOW of the temperature inside an ambulance which was transporting a patient. It reads 102 degrees.



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