Cops: Phoenix FF Who Struck, Killed Another Didn't Have Spotter

When a Phoenix firefighter was crushed between an engine and the door of an ambulance in May, the fire truck driver didn't have a spotter as required by department policy.

Phoenix Police who investigated the fatal incident said they don't believe criminal or traffic charges are warranted in the case, according to a report released Tuesday. reporters noted that Phoenix fire policy requires a spotter.

The fire department also is conducting an investigation, they said, to determine "what changes the agency can make to its operational procedures to reduce the chances of such a fatality happening again."

Phoenix Firefighter Brad Harper, 23, was trapped between the engine and a door of his rescue ambulance May 18 as crews responded to the mulch fire in Phoenix.

Harper was extricated from between the two vehicles because paramedics feared he would die if they moved either of the trucks. He died at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center the next morning.

Police determined that Harper’s truck, Rescue 21, was parked facing northbound on 39th Avenue when the fire engine’s driver was told to go back to Lower Buckeye Road to work with another engine.

The firefighter began driving his truck, Engine 24, in reverse on 39th Avenue when Harper’s partner yelled at the engine to stop.

At the same time, Harper’s partner “heard a metal on metal sound,” according to the report.

The back-up alarm on the engine was working properly, police noted.

Phoenix Fire Chief Bob Khan told reporters his investiatvie team would probably address a few specific areas such as the use of a spotter, where the rescue ambulance was parked at the scene and the department’s formal procedures for large fires.

Though the engine’s driver, Shayne Arthur, violated policy, Khan could not say whether there would be any further disciplinary action, reporters noted. 

“We take it very seriously that we don’t want Brad’s death to be in vain,” Khan said. “But I don’t know that you can punish your way to correcting that behavior; it needs to be an organizational shift starting with me.”