Last week a horrific accident involving two responding fire apparatus collided in an intersection resulting in serious personal injuries to eleven people, nine of which were firefighters. The resulting collision caused significant property damage to the six month old aerial ladder and the year old engine.
The preliminary investigation of the crash indicated that the apparatus driver of the aerial truck may have run a red light at the intersection, while the engine company driver had the green light. The engine company also had control of the Opticom system at the intersection. Both companies were responding to what initially was a reported fire call-but turned out to be public works crew smoke-testing sewer lines.
The most significant issue that has arisen thus far is that law enforcement officials have determined that aerial ladder driver ran the red traffic signal-causing last weeks crash, and now has officially been charged with failure to use due caution. The aerial ladder subsequently rolled, hit a woman on a bicycle, snapped a utility pole and landed on top of a car. The bicyclist crushed by the ladder truck, remains in critical condition. The ramifications of this charge may be far reaching in a number of ways. And all of this for the first-due.
You know what I mean. Responding to what has all the makings of a “good” call, knowing that other companies are heading to the same address from different stations or departments- All with one goal in mind; being first-due. It’s interesting to note, one of the articles in the local news media mentions, “Did station rivalry cause the fire truck crash?” Take a look HERE. Say it ain’t so! Trying to beat another company in to the scene- preposterous, we don’t do anything like that! Running red lights, blowing through intersections, pushing the envelope with the speed limit..all in the name of the first-due.
When are we going get it! Stop and think about some of the moral, ethical and legal responsibilities the next time you get behind the wheel of an apparatus and begin rolling out the station. Whether you’re the apparatus driver or the company officer-SOMEONE needs to keep the response in check and balance the urgency, severity, the needs and the timliness of the response. YOU as the apparatus drive NEED to take FULL responsibility. Can you handle that? Take a look at some of the incident reports on the NIOSH Reports or at the EGH site. Stop and think, is it worth the risks you're taking? You may not have the chance to pass go, you won’t be collection 200 dollars; You may be going directly to jail- with no free get out of jail card. Slow down, drive responsibly, there's always going to be another call, there always is.