For the second time in less than a year, a CCFR fire truck was struck on Interstate 70. At 11:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15 the ladder fire truck was departing the scene of a car accident when it was struck from behind. A driver who fell asleep at the wheel drove his car into the fire truck.
Despite firefighters following all national safety recommendations and regulations, the truck was struck and severely damaged. “Luckily, no firefighters were injured and the driver of the car only suffered minor injuries,” says Chief Russ Mason. “The driver who hit the fire truck in January lost his life in the crash.”
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) vehicle collisions claimed 253 firefighter lives and another 70 firefighters were lost as a result of being struck by a vehicle from 1996 to 2010. These situations are not only dangerous for firefighters, a Department of Transportation (DOT) report found that approximately 18 percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. are a result of secondary collisions. These are collisions that occur as a result of distraction or congestion from a prior incident.
Fire trucks are typically positioned at accidents to help protect accident victims and emergency responders from oncoming traffic. “In the case of these accidents, the fire truck that was hit protected other emergency responders from being struck,” notes Mason.
“We need the help of our residents to keep themselves and our firefighters safe on the road,” explains Mason.
Mason recommends that when drivers come upon an accident scene they:
- Slow down
- Stay alert
- Focus on the road
- Avoid using cell phones
- Look for personnel directing traffic, and tending to the accident scene
- Stop when directed to stop, do not slowly coast
- Do not make any sudden movements
- Do not stare at the accident scene or flashing lights while the vehicle is in motion
The fire truck that was struck was severely damaged, and it is expected to take months to repair.