We regret to pass on to you that Fire Chief Tracy Sanders, of the Mount Olive Volunteer Fire Department, was killed in the Line of Duty today (Friday) in a three-vehicle crash around 1300 hours in Ohatchee. The crash occurred at the intersection of Mudd Street and Alabama 77.
A motorist was injured Thursday night in a collision with a fire engine.
The crash occurred at about 9 p.m. when a Lexington Fire Department engine on its way to a call was heading inbound on North Broadway near Judy Lane with its lights and sirens activated, police Sgt. Brian Peterson said.
He said the crew operating the engine received a change in its call and tried to make a U-turn to go outbound on North Broadway.
A vehicle that had been traveling behind the fire engine hit the engine in the left rear as it turned, Peterson said.
The driver of the vehicle was taken to a hospital. The person’s injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.
Peterson said the passenger vehicle sustained significant damage. The fire engine had minor to moderate damage, he said.
Ottawa County crews spent most of Thursday morning righting a Zeeland Township fire truck that crashed while en route to another wreck.
It happened around 4:15 a.m. Thursday near Chicago Drive.
The fire truck was on its way to an injury crash involving a car and semi-truck on I-196 when the driver lost control on the ice. The southbound fire truck slid across the northbound lane and drove into a ditch before rolling on its side.
Zeeland Township fire truck crash
The three firefighters aboard the truck, including the 57-year-old driver, suffered minor injuries.
“Everybody was treated and released. We’re just so thankful that nobody was seriously hurt,” said Zeeland Township deputy fire chief Tom Jekel.
The rig, known as Aerial 642 on the fire radio, is the township’s go-to truck. Carrying a hose, pump, extra water, a 50 foot ladder and a large array of rescue equipment, it’s equipped to handle most emergencies.
Insurance should cover the engine’s $750,000 replacement cost, but it won’t speed up the replacement process.
“We use it pretty extensively, so this is going to be a moderately big impact for us here in the township,” said Jekel.
The truck was built in 1998 and rebuilt in 2004.
“It does take a good bit of time, possibly six months to a year to go through all the details of specifying a new truck,” he added.
Other equipment may also have been damaged.
“We’re going to have to put the hose through some testing so that it can stand up to pressure. We’ve got some hydraulic rescue tools on there that we’ll go back through and make sure they’re in good shape,” explained Jekel.
Zeeland Township is like the majority of local fire departments: small. Its firefighters are part-timers who operate out of two stations.
So unlike Grand Rapids and other larger fire departments, there are no spare fire trucks in Zeeland Township to replace the wrecked one. That’s where other neighboring departments come in, with offers of a truck to fill in until the wrecked unit can be fixed or replaced.
“We try to help each other out and so that’s something that we’re very blessed with here,” said Jekel.
He said the accident should serve as a reminder to other drivers: “Unless it’s an emergency, nobody should be out on roads like that.”
For the Zeeland Township Fire Department, an emergency called.
“Based on initial reports and not knowing what the further investigation is, there really didn’t seem to be anything that driver could have done besides not leaving the station, to avoid that accident,” Jekel said.
When we’re kids, there’s something special about a fire truck. It’s bright red, has flashing lights, and makes cool noises. It’s basically a life-sized kids’ toy.
So it’s only natural that when we grow up, we still have an affinity for fire trucks. And for many people, there’s still a part of them that dreams of going for a ride along with the sirens blaring.
Well, as is Connecticut Man’s nature, he saw an opportunity to make that dream a reality and he took it. According to NBC Connecticut, West Haven’s Wayne Gagne saw a fire truck sitting vacant and unattended while firefighters responded to a medical call nearby. So, he decided to climb in the cab.
Firefighters only came out to find Gagne in the cab when they heard the sirens going off. Turns out, he was standing on the switch that turns them on.
Gagne is being charged with trying to steal the truck and with possession of a dangerous weapon (he had an 8-inch knife on him for some reason). But if he doesn’t have a previous record, I’m hoping they show him a little leniency.
Because I know it’s not right to get into a car, let alone a fire truck, without permission, but I don’t think many of us who could resist the opportunity Gagne had. Those fire truck dreams of our youth don’t fade away, and the opportunities for a grown man to make them actually happen are few and far between.
Assuming he doesn’t have a long history of criminal behavior, I doubt he was actually trying to take the thing for a joy ride. He probably just wanted to play with the sirens. He probably just wanted to pretend he was a fireman for a few minutes. He probably just wanted to make one of his dreams a reality.
And if dreaming big and trying to make them a reality is a crime, then we should all be locked up. Because for the first time in Connecticut Man history, that’s all this guy was doing. And frankly, it’s a little admirable.
A ladder truck malfunctioned as city firefighters responded to a “deep-seated” fire at a building housing a paper recycling company on 7th Street on Tuesday evening, authorities said.
No one was injured in the blaze, Chief Patrick Trentacost said.
Firefighters responded to a paper recycling factory on 7th Street at approximately 6:30 p.m., Trentacost said, and found the fire burning in the middle of the structure.
Trentacost called the fire “unique” because large bundles of recycled paper that stretched 20 feet in the air that were burning inside the building.
After arriving, firefighters doused the building for nearly two-and-half hours before calling it under control. The fire was extinguished at 11:30 p.m., Trentacost said.
Investigators determined that employees of the paper recycling company had attempted to put out the fire themselves before calling the fire department, Trentacost said.
“Our intention is to avoid this in the future,” Trentacost said, adding that the public should call firefighters instead of attempting to put out fires themselves. “The department’s response time makes the difference between a large fire and small fire.”
The cause of the fire is still being investigated, Trentacost said, but it is not being considered suspicious.
A “mechanical issue” caused a “malfunction” on a ladder truck, Trentacost said. The three firefighters on the truck were unharmed when the ladder crashed onto the building. The cause of the malfunction is under investigation, he said.
The ladder truck was last passed an inspection in October, Trentacost said. The ladder truck manufacturer is assisting in the malfunction’s investigation, he said.
Mayor Hector Lora said that when he arrived it was a “huge relief” to find that no one was injured during the fire and credited the department’s “professionalism” in getting it under control.