Massachusetts Firefighter Cited in Ladder Truck Crash

Nov. 18, 2008
Police have charged a Provincetown volunteer firefighter in a Nov. 9 crash that totaled the town's only ladder truck.

PROVINCETOWN, Mass. -- Police have charged a Provincetown volunteer firefighter with speeding and operating a firetruck dangerously following an investigation into a Nov. 9 crash that totaled the town's only ladder truck.

Elias Martinez, 21, who joined the Provincetown volunteer fire department as a junior firefighter at age 13, was driving the truck during a routine test at around 9:30 a.m. when the truck's front wheel hit a curb at Snail Road and Route 6 and flipped over about four times, investigators said.

Rescuers took Martinez and a female passenger not associated with the fire department to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis. Both Martinez and the passenger, Emily Forbes, 21, of Pembroke were treated for minor injuries.

As a result of an accident reconstruction report received yesterday, police cited Martinez for speeding, failure to use caution at an intersection and operating a vehicle negligently, said Provincetown police Staff Sgt. Warren Tobias.

Negligent or reckless operation of a motor vehicle is a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence in a house of correction of two years, according to state sentencing guidelines.

Tobias declined to reveal the estimated speed of the firetruck, citing the pending court proceedings.

Martinez has also been put on unpaid administrative leave, said Provincetown Town Manager Sharon Lynn.

As a volunteer firefighter, Martinez would normally receive an annual stipend from the town of about $2,000, according to Provincetown Finance Director Alex Heilala. Martinez received $3,815 as an emergency medical technician in Fiscal Year 2007, according to town records.

No one answered a knock at the door at the Martinez home yesterday afternoon, and a family member declined comment by phone.

Martinez's passenger, Emily Forbes, who is not being charged, was a summer police officer this year, Tobias confirmed. She is not currently employed or paid by the town of Provincetown, said Heilala. Town Manager Lynn said she doesn't know the reason why Forbes was in the firetruck.

Forbes could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Martinez is a steward with the 75-member volunteer fire department, where his father, E.J. Martinez, is captain. He was trained and authorized to drive the ladder truck, Trovato said.

The truck, which was purchased used in 1995, was outfitted for around $165,000 with a special four-stage ladder to handle the town's densely packed neighborhoods, which have narrow streets and many older wood buildings.

Provincetown and its next-door neighbor, Truro, both with year-round populations under 3,500, are the only two part-time fire departments of 19 fire departments on Cape Cod.

Provincetown officials hope to use about $350,000 in insurance money to buy and refurbish another used truck, and not ask taxpayers to foot any of the bill, Lynn said.

For now, the town will rely on ladder trucks from Wellfleet and Orleans, at least 15 minutes away, through a multi-town agreement between fire departments and rescue squads, the Wellfleet and Orleans fire chiefs said.

No court date has been set in Orleans District Court for Martinez's arraignment.

Republished with permission of The Cape Cod Times.

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