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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Another Rollover of a Deadly Nature

    I just read on the frontpage of Firehouse.com where an Alabama firefighter was killed after a rollover in departmental apparatus. First and foremost my deepest sympathy is extended to her husband, children, other family members, and her brothers and sisters on the job.

    Apparatus roll-over occurs at an alarming rate. It seem that a week doesn't go by without another rig rolling over. We have to take notice and think - "This rig wants to roll-over...What can I do to prevent it". I have been researching roll-overs and will have an article done in a few days. I plan on offering it to major magazines. In my research I have been alarmed at the many similiarites of many roll-overs. Does your department ever address this issue in detail?


  2. #2
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Rollovers occur because of the high center of gravity combined with excessive speed.

    What can be done to help stop this from happening again and killing firefighters?

    1. Better driver training. A fire truck does not handle like a car, yet many states allow firefighters to drive vehicles that would require a CDL to operate in the real world on their passenger car licenses (and yes, Massachusetts is one of them). The excuse that the fire administrators (both career and volunteer) use is the expense of CDL testing and licensing. I find it ironic that the Department of Public Works requires their drivers to have CDL's, and they never respond to emergencies code 3, while firefighters do not need them and do! (FYI...I do have my CDL..it was a requirement to drive the Fire Academy's vehicles...the Academy's fire apparatus were not considered as such but as training vehicles, which necessitated the CDL to drive over the road and on the Academy's grounds.) Anyone who drives an emergency response vehicle should take an emeregency response/decision driving course.

    2. Better apparatus design. My own opinion, commercial truck chassis are not designed for firefighting. The Engine to which I am assigned was built on an International Navistar 4 door cab/chassis. It is not what I would call "firefighter friendly"!

    3. A warning system to alert the driver that the vehicle is reaching the threshold limit in relation to the speed of the vehicle and it's center of gravity with an interface that would slow the vehicle down to a safe speed to negotiate the turn.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 04-08-2002 at 06:29 PM.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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  3. #3
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    2. Better apparatus design. My own opinion, commercial truck chassis are not designed for firefighting. The Engine to which I am assigned was built on an International Navistar 4 door cab/chassis. It is not what I would call "firefighter friendly"!
    I agree there Gonzo. They do not handle particularly well and are more designed to carry milk than firefighters. However, just like everything else, we have to do with what we have.

    A warning system to alert the driver that the vehicle is reaching the threshold limit in relation to the speed of the vehicle and it's center of gravity with an interface that would slow the vehicle down to a safe speed to negotiate the turn
    I recall in my submarine days we had a particular item that would not allow our speed to increase and create noise so that the Sov's could not here us. It was a great design.

    Many of these accidents don't involve speed though. Some are the vehicle leaving the road on a straight and narrow. The driver then overcorrects or the vehicle is thrown off so much that recovery is impossible.

  4. #4
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    And a Gold Star to all respondents.The two biggest factors to rollovers of ANY vehicle involve either speed,or "catching the edge"and over correcting.That combined with the high COG puts 'em over every time.I agree with Gonzo that some of the laws we have/don't have are completely a** upwards.T.C.

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    I'm not convinced having a CDL will make anyone a better or safer truck driver. The key is experience and those of us who only get to drive a couple of times a month will never be "truck drivers" regardless of what our license says.

    I have also been surprised that the majority of the tanker rollovers I have read about in the past few years have involved drivers over thirty years old. Why are people who are old enough to know better crashing?
    _________DILLIGAF

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    I have also been surprised that the majority of the tanker rollovers I have read about in the past few years have involved drivers over thirty years old. Why are people who are old enough to know better crashing?
    I would have to disagree, respectfully, about people being old enough to know better. Many factors contribute to accidents. Being 30 does not make one "old enough" to know better. Its the persons maturity level, experience, training, and a bit of grace that allows an appartaus driver to arrive unscathed. Grace allows you to miss "the other" driver who is often a culprit.

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    Senior Member FireFighterMO's Avatar
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    I hope everyone is wearing seatbelts!

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    I hope everyone is wearing seatbelts!
    I would but I am currently in my house...which makes a seatbelt quite uncomfortable.

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    Senior Member FireFighterMO's Avatar
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    I thought you were in the looking glass. LoL J/K

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    Forum Member LACAPT's Avatar
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    What must be stressed to these drivers that only get behind the wheel once a month or less is that they must take their driving actions down to the lowest denominator of their driving skill level, and operate to that point and not beyond. It would be interesting to know how many accidents due to rollover were caused by pure inexpeirence. I would be willing to bet the % is very high. All to often operators get behind the wheel and because they have lights and siren at their disposal, they are god-like, nothing can happen to them. I take no hesitation to dress down an operator that I feel is outdriving his ability, and have even gone so far as replacing him/her, with someone on the rig that I can trust.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Temptaker's Avatar
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    I have to agree that a lot of the problem comes down to simply not having enough experience. It amazes me that they have simulators for nearly everything now, but nothing for driving. Pilots and astronauts have flight simulators, so why can't drivers of emergency vehicles have one? There are video games that you can climb into and they are realistic enough that you can feel the road, or so it would seem, underneath you. We have graduated licencing here now, which I agree with. It should cut down drastically on the number of MVA's, but would it really hurt if they put simulators in the MVD, so that new drivers or people new to the area can get a taste of what driving conditions can be like. I guess the whole thing comes down to money, and who is going to pay for it.

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    Default "Homemade" tankers

    I would like to address one other item in relation to roll-overs. Some departments retro-fit a truck, be it a former milk truck, whatever, to utilize as tankers and as attack trucks. This saves money and some communities have to do this. However it is important to note that the vehicles that are converted may not be structurally sound, thereby making it difficult for a stable platform. This is certainly a problem.

    We sometimes see our good friend "Bubba", the welder who does jobs for the department, welding on pieces that help to stabilize the vehicle. Nothing against Bubba, he is doing it out of the goodness of his heart. However what may seem to be a stabilizing piece of steel added could be just the item that helps to cause a rollover. Perhaps the tank is "overcome", or the chassis, when subjected to forces such as wind and the effects of a stiff corner.

    I know of one instance where a tank became a "free" piece of debris after seperating from the chassis. Not all chassis are equal. Keep that in mind when doing repairs and modifying an existing piece of apparatus. In those cases caution should be demanded by the department. At least IMHO.

    Stay safe

  13. #13
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    Unhappy

    It's interesting to note that the majority of rollovers are when responding code 3. We have considered removing all overheads and sirens from our Tankers. First of all you're not going to get there but a few seconds faster using lights and siren. In most fire districts that will be the rule, not the exception. It's just plain dangerous trying to drive a vehicle with a shifting load, faster than the posted speed limit. We still have our lights and sirens but we constantly stress safety. Get to the scene safe and bring the water, it does us no good in the ditch. I think an audible warning bell (ding....ding....ding....) when the Tanker exceeds 45-50 mph would help. Even this speed can be dangerous on narrow two lanes, but it's a start. It's a fact that adrenelin (sirens only make it worse) causes the right foot to get heavier for some people. Without the Code 3 response, I think there would be less roll overs.



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  14. #14
    Senior Member Temptaker's Avatar
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    Old Fric... great point.

    I just got images from that show 'Home Improvement'. A good example of just because someone says they know what they are doing, it doesn't mean they actually do.

    Can the manufacturers not provide information for modifications of the vehicle based on the wheel base?

  15. #15
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    This latest LODD has certainly hit close to home for me being in Alabama only a couple of hours away from the accident scene. Just last night we had an individual apply for membership with our dept. He is quite young at 21, has a CDL, and drives a concrete truck during the day. He then went on to tell me that just last week he rolled his concrete truck. After he told me that, I remembered hearing the call go out in the neighboring town. While I'm thinking about it, did I mention that my dept just took delivery of a 2002 Freightliner FL70 2000 gal tanker? This truck is capable of speeds in excess of 80 mph. Anyway, I'm am somewhat skittish about this new truck depending on who's driving. I think excessive speeds and lack of experience and good judgement are the culprit in many of the rollover accidents we have heard about. Heck, even my SUV has a warning label on the sunvisor telling the driver about the dangers of high centers of gravity, abrupt maneuvers, etc. If even my vehicle needs such labeling, then surely we need to approach something like an engine or tanker with a huge amount of respect and caution for what it is.

  16. #16
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    Spartan makes a driver center of gravity warning indicator system. Simply slowing down would do a lot to help. Most responsible departments have CDL requirements in place. Aux braking systems would help.

  17. #17
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Quote: "This truck is capable of speeds in excess of 80 mph"

    Why would anyone spec this, why would anyone build this, and why would anyone allow this to be accepted?

    I cannot imagine anyone having to explain why their fire truck was travelling at 80mph when it had an accident. Governors/Engine retarders...there are too many options to protect us from ourselves to have an 80mph vehicle.

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    Default An old thread, but still happening....

    Roll-overs continue to happen even with newer vehicles. The engineering has gotten better but the accidents haven't stopped.

    Another thing contributing to roll-overs is the amount of force the water has when it gets sloshing around. At 8lbs. per gallon, cornering, accelerating, and decelerating causes a massive shift in weight. As the water transfers to one side, it has no way to go but towards the top of the tank causing the center of gravity to raise. Baffles inside the tank help, but do not eliminate this shifting problem. You are carrying a lot of weight that transfers to different areas, changing the driving characteristics constantly. Speed has no place with anything that has any amount of liquid in it. Slow down, drive safe. If you never get to the scene, you will not help anyone.

  19. #19
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    I agree with you mostly there Rob. Malahat uses an 3k gal ex-milk truck as a tanker. Not that the truck is a problem - I've driven it, and it's in great shape for its age. However, because it was a milk truck, it has only ONE baffle in the tank (to prevent making cream out of milk) and because of that, unless the tank is full, the COG is just "wonderful" when it's at anything less than 1/2 full. Oversized pig/mule on wheels is more like!

    We've actually considered taking the siren off because all that seems to do is confuse the populace anyhow. According to BC driving laws, it is "ok" to pass Code 3 emergency apparatus if that veh is going at or below the posted speed limits. Which is to say that unless the truck is going down hill, its more than likely only at the speed limit anyhow.

    This same truck has been laid (not in my time though) over on its side 2 or 3 times, and each one was because it lost the road and the shoulder gave way. All incidents were at low speed and no injuries, unless you count pride, were had by the occupants.

    I also drove an oil tanker and my only and best advice to any tanker driver, is GET OUT AND DRIVE IT. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. Gee... that sounds a lot like some of the other things we do..... Practice makes experience, and experience makes safe. Or at least one would hope anyhow.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo
    Rollovers occur because of the high center of gravity combined with excessive speed.

    What can be done to help stop this from happening again and killing firefighters?

    1. Better driver training. A fire truck does not handle like a car, yet many states allow firefighters to drive vehicles that would require a CDL to operate in the real world on their passenger car licenses (and yes, Massachusetts is one of them). The excuse that the fire administrators (both career and volunteer) use is the expense of CDL testing and licensing. I find it ironic that the Department of Public Works requires their drivers to have CDL's, and they never respond to emergencies code 3, while firefighters do not need them and do! (FYI...I do have my CDL..it was a requirement to drive the Fire Academy's vehicles...the Academy's fire apparatus were not considered as such but as training vehicles, which necessitated the CDL to drive over the road and on the Academy's grounds.) Anyone who drives an emergency response vehicle should take an emeregency response/decision driving course.
    Gonz, not even CDL's prevent idiots from obtaining them, and it sure does not provent those same idiots from getting behind the wheel of a fire apparatus. While I don't disagree that we should be requiring CDL's, it won't prevent rollovers, or accidents.

    2. Better apparatus design. My own opinion, commercial truck chassis are not designed for firefighting. The Engine to which I am assigned was built on an International Navistar 4 door cab/chassis. It is not what I would call "firefighter friendly"!
    Yes, but they are "budget friendly" Right?

    3. A warning system to alert the driver that the vehicle is reaching the threshold limit in relation to the speed of the vehicle and it's center of gravity with an interface that would slow the vehicle down to a safe speed to negotiate the turn.
    Oshkosh has placed these in their ARFF trucks for years, and can be speced into any apparatus Pierce builds.
    FF/NREMT-B

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