It seems impossible to hear of a fire truck leaving the station without a driver, but that’s what happened Thursday when Boise’s Truck-5 responded to an alarm at Adams School, but forgot the “tillerman”–the guy who steers the back half of the 100 foot aerial ladder.
When the truck–with only half the driving team–rounded the corner on Grove at 16th, the back end of the articulated truck swung wide and whacked into a pick up truck. No one was injured in the crash, but we can all hope there will be some major pain in the backsides of some heroic first responders.
Those trucks are so long they require the tillerman in the back to actually turn in the opposite direction when rounding a corner–that keeps the rig from driving over curbs. The truck can be driven (carefully on wide streets)
with the tiller locked in the straight ahead position. In this case it was obviously NOT locked.
Standard procedure is to get a “ready” signal from the tillerman before moving the truck. It is also standard procedure for the Capt. to know his crew is aboard the rig. We speculate the internal investigation will take some time, but in the end it will probably show:
–TILLERMAN missed the bus. Big question is WHY?
–DRIVER left the station without a signal from the tiller (who was AWOL).
–CAPTAIN as commander of the crew didn’t know the whereabouts of a key crewman OR knowingly left him behind. Bad move on either count.
This ranks up there with the ENGINE 8 crew that took out the door of the station in 2008 when an equipment door was left open on the side of the rig.
UPDATE 1/30/09–We got inside information that a “perfect storm” was responsible for the driverless ladder truck. Seems the tillerman got on, but noticed a cabinet door open on the truck and got off to close it so as not to wreck the firehouse like Engine 8 did last year. The front driver had seen the tiller get on, but not get off. Then when they did the role call, the #3 crewman said, “I am here,” and the driver mistook the voice for that of the tillerman who was left chasing his ride out the door…we would love to see the video of that event.
He frantically ran to the station’s radio to call his ride, but Truck 5–at the direction of dispatch–had changed radio frequencies. THAT is a “perfect storm.” Intercom procedures, use of the mirrors, and response by name or crew member designation, and the “ready signal” will be enforced in the future.
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