Questions are being raised in a Tennessee county about how old someone should have to be to drive an emergency vehicle after an 18-year-old crashed a tanker truck last month.
The firefighter with the South Side Volunteer Fire Department in Unicoi County was returning from a call when she lost control of the 28,000-pound vehicle, according to WJHL-TV.
She overcorrected, causing it to roll over.
A state highway patrol investigation found that she was traveling below the speed limit and no citations were issued, South Side Boad Chairman Jimmy Erwin told the news station.
Erwin said that the firefighter wasn't the only teen allowed to drive a fire truck.
"We’ve got a couple other 18 year-olds that drive," he said. "It's not like we just put them in a vehicle and turn them loose and let them run red lights down the road. (They can drive) after they've completed a very intense driving training and have been approved by the chief and by the training officer."
The department's insurance agent has told fire officials in the past that if the drivers are at least 18 and are approved by the fire department, they would be covered.
Erwin said the 18-year-old is a 'more than capable' driver and is a better driver than some of her older counterparts.
"With the shortage of volunteers in the volunteer fire department these days we, along with other departments, are allowing eighteens to drive more," he said. "You may have five or six 18-year-olds who are just out of high school and that's who is out saving lives and protecting the people of the county."
Tennessee firefighters are exempt from obtaining commercial driver's licenses and are only required to take part in at least two hours of annual training and pass a driving exam.
While South Side allows teens to drive fire trucks, not all departments do.
The Fall Branch Volunteer Fire Department only allows teens to in non-emergencies and there's always a senior firefighter in the passenger seat.
"We'd like for you to be 21 years of age and have 40 hours of non-emergency driving (training)," Fall Branch EMT Lockner said. "To me, I think you ought to be 21. At the age of 18 you've just been driving a motor vehicle for two years. The more experience, the better."