I have been a Lt. for around 8 years. In our department, the Lt.’s drive and act if the Captain is off. That means for the past 8 years I have drove an engine (short stint on a ladder). The other day I got into a wreck. I won’t go into details, the “investigation” is ongoing apparently. The accident was minor and yes, it could have been avoided. This wreck was a game changer. I prided myself in being a good aggressive (yet smart and attentive) driver.
We were responding to an emergency on the Interstate. We were on a 6 lane divided road in a busy commercial area when a car in front of my psyched me out. They went right as if they were going to change lanes then came back left and slammed on the brakes. I had plenty of room I thought and I was already slowing down, but the engine didn’t stop in time. I think I strained a muscle in my arm from pulling up on the steering wheel while standing on the brakes. We couldn’t occupy the same space at the same time and minor damage was done to the car in front of me. I was not cited in the accident and I am not sure if the other driver was. The driver was transported after my Captain talked her into it. From what I hear she was not injured.
The incident that played out has happened so many times on the same stretch of road. Drivers freak out and slam on their brakes in front of you. This time, I simply didn’t have enough braking power.
No one was injured…just my pride
I understand that some of the guys in my department want to know why I haven’t written about the wreck yet…yeah, I have those guys in my department too! They pointed to the damage of Ladder 1 I shared in a photo months ago. From what I heard, they think I ran the picture the day after the accident. I didn’t. I offered it in a post weeks later. It wasn’t meant to point any fingers. I don’t even know the name of the firefighter driving when it happened (front or tiller).
To be honest, I did write about my wreck on the Fire Critic Facebook Fan Page that day or the next. I wasn’t proud, but I had to get it off my chest.
The reason why I have spoke about it much is because the “investigation” is ongoing. It has to be…I haven’t been called about it yet. I don’t imagine I will get a phone call about it either, but hopefully a thorough investigation is in the process. No one even had the truck looked over at the garage.
Many say that driving apparatus to emergencies is a dangerous part of our job. I agree. So many firefighters are killed each year while responding. I imagine close calls happen daily all over the World with responding apparatus. I know we have had our fair share on the job.
The truth is that I am still not sure I can do much differently. Sometimes Shit Just happens.
Don’t get me wrong. I will probably be driving slower and if possible being more attentive.
I have always been the kind of guy to sit down and review my driving habits when I do something stupid or we have a close call. After all, my job is to drive and get my crew from point A to point B safely.
I will continue to assess my driving as I have done in the past.
One other note: my only other accident on the job was about 6 months out of recruit school when I rear-ended another car in an ambulance. It was totally my fault. I was distracted. I was cited in the accident, but the judge let me off.
Below you can see the slight damage to the front bumper. The picture is just to keep me honest.