Thieves ransack Pierce County fire truck, take thousands worth of ‘life-saving equipment’

A fire truck in Pierce County was ransacked in broad daylight, costing firefighters thousands of dollars worth of critical equipment.

Usually, firefighters for the Pierce County Fire Protection District in Dash Point will resupply their trucks themselves. But as they went to grab a bite to eat at a QFC on Monday, someone stole the gear right off of their rig. That included a medical box, an airway bag, a chainsaw, a rotary saw, axes, and scene lights.

“Thousands of dollars of equipment,” Lt. Dylan Tapia told KIRO 7. “This is absolutely life saving equipment.”

Lt. Tapia says a fire engine had to be cannibalized just to get this one back in service after thieves stole all that equipment.

“We had no idea -- pulled up on the scene and we’re opening our bays like, ‘where’s our equipment?’” he said.

The thieves even took equipment that helps stabilize fire trucks, compromising the ability to respond on hilly or rough terrain.

“We can still use it for pumping if we need to, but we’re not going to be able to do any vehicle extrication,” Lt. Tapia said. “Patient rescue, we’re not going to be able to do a lot of what we need to do, it’s just frustrating.”

Tapia says someone did call 911, and later learned the thieves had pulled up in a U-Haul before driving off with the equipment. It all happened fast, since the compartments in the truck aren’t typically locked so that firefighters can have easy access during emergencies.

“It doesn’t make sense for one person to have a key,” Tapia clarified.

Police are now investigating, but Tapia says the department is essentially down one fire engine.

Tapia hopes the thieves are caught and the equipment comes back, since it will take weeks, maybe even months, to dip into station funds to buy all new equipment that must meet firefighting standards.