City fire truck believed totaled in accident

Four Daphne firefighters OK, but $250,000 vehicle will likely require replacement, fire chief says

12/23/03

By DAN MURTAUGH
Staff Reporter


DAPHNE -- A $250,000 fire truck overturned on the narrow roads of Olde Towne Daphne on Sunday night and will probably have to be scrapped, Daphne Fire Department Chief Mund Hanson said Monday.

None of the four firefighters on board were seriously injured in the accident, and police and fire authorities are investigating the incident, Hanson said. Officials declined to identify the fire department employees.

The firemen will remain on duty and on the payroll while the investigation is under way, he said. Hanson wouldn't comment further on the wreck.

Officials are still waiting to hear from the company that insured the truck, but Hanson said he expected that the city would have to chip in some money from its General Fund for a new vehicle.

Daphne Mayor Harry Brown said the city has $2.7 million of unencumbered funds earning interest in a savings account that can be used to help pay for a replacement truck.

The truck was an "engine" or "pumper," Hanson said, describing it as one of the big red stereotypical vehicles that people immediately associate with fire departments. It carries 750 gallons of water and is operated by a team of four firefight ers.

The fire department still has five pumper trucks available for use, but Hanson said he wanted to replenish his fleet as soon as possible.

The truck in question was on its way to a small fire on Gray's Lane when the accident occurred, Hanson said.

Ironically, the crew manning the vehicle had been told to stand by about a minute before the crash, because another truck had reached the scene already, Hanson said.

The truck was headed west on Lea Avenue, which connects Main Street to Old County Road. Lea dead ends at Old County, and the truck couldn't stop in time, tried to turn left and landed on its passenger side, Hanson said.

The accident occurred at about 8:30 p.m., Hanson said.

"You see it when it happens at other places, and you say, 'That ain't gonna happen to me,'" he said. "It's like your worst nightmare come true."

The four firefighters who manned the truck were taken to Thomas Hospital, where they were treated and released, Hanson said.

The fire department has had the 1999 Freightliner FL 80 since late 1998, Hanson said. Trucks usually last much longer, he said. The department currently has a 1979 model that's still in service.

The fate of the truck is still in question, Hanson said, but both he and Brown said they ex pected it to be declared a total loss.

Hanson and Brown said this is the first time either of them can remember a fire truck being wrecked in Daphne.





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