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The complaint ratchets up already tense relations between the fire department’s labor and management.

Mr. Quander last week asked the police department to investigate the ambulance fire at which the photo was captured as well as a second ambulance fire that occurred that day to determine whether anything “untoward is occurring to these vehicles.”

The comment rankled union officials, who took it as an accusation that leadership suspects the rank and file of sabotaging ambulances.

“They’ve taken an accusatory reaction on everything involving our employees,” Mr. Hudson said.

Problems concerning the department’s beleaguered ambulance fleet and its staffing woes have cropped up repeatedly this year. Nearly three-fourths of the ambulance fleet required repairs after massive breakdowns occurred last month during a week of high temperatures, and medic shortages have regularly forced units staffed with highly trained paramedics to downgrade their level of care because only lesser trained emergency medical technicians were available.

The fire department is expected to unveil newly purchased ambulances and introduce new hires early next week.

“The chief is doing a good job,” Mr. Quander said. “There are many obstacles that are in front of him.”