Video shows St. Louis fire truck collision


Editor's note: While investigations into this incident in St. Louis are ongoing, check out safety columnist Tom LaBelle's take on the general issues of responding to calls in "Reckless Responses Cost Lives."

 

By Patrick O'Connell
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)

 
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St. Louis — Video from a red light enforcement camera at Martin Luther King Drive and Taylor Avenue clearly shows the dramatic collision on Oct. 10 of two St. Louis fire trucks at a blind corner.

It appears that Engine Co. 28, using a reserve truck, may have gone east through a red traffic signal. It was struck on its right rear by the front of the northbound Engine Co. 10. Both were responding to a nearby house fire.

Fire Department officials say department policy requires drivers of Fire Department apparatus to stop or check the intersection for cross traffic before proceeding with caution.

Eight firefighters were injured. Capt. Bob Keuss said Monday that seven were released from the hospital that day; the eighth suffered a concussion and has not returned to duty. All were wearing seat belts, the department said.

A department investigation continues, Keuss said.

Corner shops at the MLK and Taylor intersection block the views of the cross streets. It also is possible the firetrucks did not hear the other approaching over the sirens and air horns of their own trucks, Keuss said.

The video, posted on the Internet site YouTube, shows that the signal facing east on King was red. Signals facing west, visible to the driver of Co. 28, and south, visible to the driver of Co. 10, are not visible.

The impact spun Co. 28 around and tipped it over.

The northbound truck that suffered front-end damage is under repair at the department's shop. The status of the flipped truck is unknown.

Once the fire marshal's report is complete, the chief will determine whether disciplinary action is necessary, Keuss said.

The captain of an engine company usually decides who will drive the rigs, Keuss said. Some firehouses rotate drivers. Others generally use the same firefighters to drive the trucks.

Firefighters are required to complete mandatory driver training every few years, including behind-the-wheel testing, Keuss said.

Regardless of whether the accident results in disciplinary action, Keuss said, the department will learn from the crash and will review its policies.

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