Engine rolled over, flipped, and crashed into a ditch
NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program
On September 9, 2016 a 40- year-old firefighter was killed, and two firefighters were seriously injured when their fire apparatus left the roadway, rolled over, flipped and crashed into a ditch.
The fire apparatus (Engine 3) was responding to a reported camper trailer fire in their first due response area along with another Engine (Engine 1), a Rescue truck (Rescue 1) and a Battalion Chief (Battalion 1). During the response, Engine 3’s crew realized a mistake in the response destination and adjusted their response route to the site of the reported camper trailer fire.
The second due engine company would now arrive first. While continuing their response, Engine 3 entered a left curve on a two-lane city/county roadway and ran off the road after coming out of the curve. It then crashed into a large ditch on the right hand side of the roadway, rolled, and then flipped end over end.
The driver, Captain, and jump-seat firefighter were all ejected from the apparatus.
The Captain and jump-seat firefighter (firefighter 2) were treated and transported to a local hospitals. The Captain was then flown by air ambulance to a trauma hospital. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.
- Excessive speed and lack of control of the vehicle
- Driver experience and training
- Exiting curve on a narrow roadway with minimal shoulder and deep ditch
- Age of the fire apparatus
- Initial mis-identification of the address of the emergency incident.
- Fire departments should ensure that fire equipment driver/operators are trained and proficient in techniques to keep control of the emergency vehicle at all times and reduce speed when necessary.
- Fire departments should ensure that fire equipment driver/operators have experience and specific training and proficiency in the class of vehicle that they are expected to operate prior to responding in an emergency mode.
- Fire departments should ensure that fire equipment driver/operators have the necessary experience and training in assigned areas before they are allowed to drive apparatus in emergency conditions.
- Fire departments should consider including rollover protection for the crew areas of fire apparatus when upgrading or purchasing new apparatus to improve crash-worthiness for firefighter survivability in rollover crashes.
Additionally, governing municipalities (federal, state, regional, and local) should:
- Consider options to reduce dangerous road conditions including reducing approach speeds, adding additional guardrail shoulder protection in curves, increasing the hard shoulder in problem areas and implementing other roadway engineering solutions.
- Consider upgrading dispatch capabilities to provide map cross reference grids to aid responding companies in locating street addresses.