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Firefighter Error Led to Tanker Tip

Firefighter Error Led to Tanker Tip

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Indianapolis Star via YellowBrix

August 26, 2010

ASHLEY, Ind. – It was discovered that the volunteer firefighter driving the Ashley fire tanker that flipped over onto its top last Friday, is partly to blame for the accident.

The accident happened during a fire run. The tanker flipped over onto its right side and then onto its back as it turned left onto North Grand Avenue.

The crew was heading to the scene of a house fire at 0600 E. 500 S. in Pleasant Lake. At least nine fire departments responded to the fire. No one was hurt.

A Steuben County Sheriff’s Department investigation found the truck’s large size, the sharp turn, and the driver’s experience all led to the crash.

“The only mistake the driver seemed to make was turning the corner either too sharply or too quickly,” said fire chief Micah Liby.

Since the accident, some people in the small community have accused the department of dropping the ball when it comes to training. Liby vehemently defends his volunteers, saying they go through the same state required mandatory training as regular firefighters.

“After that the driving portion of the training is up to the fire departments themselves,” continues Liby. Ashley volunteers train by themselves on non-emergency runs for a period of time. Then they drive with a certified driver, and finally with the chief who ultimately certifies them.

The driver in this incident, 22-year-old Chris Kimmel, had more than a year of training behind the wheel and was in his sixth month as a certified driver.

“He was ready. It was, I believe, a simple mistake,” said Liby. “I trust all of our firefighters. They are well trained and well equipped to handle any emergency situation.”

At this point, Kimmel is not facing any disciplinary action and is back on the job. Meanwhile, the fire department is working with council to figure out if they need to change training policies.

All the trucks are covered by insurance and the damaged tanker will likely be replaced.