Here is another Close Call… this time between the POLICE and a CHIEF. ASSUME there IS another emergency vehicle coming through all intersections (not to mention civilians) and SLOW down or STOP… if it is a red light. While responding to a fire call for smoke coming from a house, a police officer and a volunteer assistant chief in his personal vehicle collide at an intersection. The police cruiser was equipped with a dash mounted camera that captured the collision before going blank at the point of impact. The police officer with lights and siren operating was headed east towards the fire scene on a divided roadway and the volunteer assistant chief was traveling south as the two approached the intersection. The volunteer assistant chief had an operating red light on the top of his truck and his siren was operating. The police officer had the green traffic signal. The volunteer assistant chief had the red traffic signal. The volunteer assistant chief slowly moves into the intersection and is watching a vehicle approaching him from the East. The vehicle slows down and the vol. asst. chief proceeds into the intersection. The intersection from the police car’s camera shows that the intersection is clear and you can visibly the volunteer asst. chief’s vehicle coming into the intersection. The police officer estimated his speed around 60 – 65 mph slams into the passenger side of the vol. asst. chief’s vehicle. The vol. asst. chief’s vehicle is spun around and begins to roll several times before coming to a rest upside down. The police cruiser slides perpendicular to the roadway and comes to stop east of the intersection on the South side of the road with it’s front bumper torn off. The air bags in both vehicles deployed. The police officer was shaken up and had no visible signs of injury, but was transported to a hospital for evaluation. The vol. asst. chief had to be extricated from his vehicle and was transported to a hospital. The police officer was released later and the vol. asst. chief was admitted for observation with several fractured ribs.The police officer stated that he never saw the vol. asst. chief’s vehicle and never applied the brakes on his vehicle prior to the crash. The vol. asst. chief stated that he thought he had the green traffic signal and never saw the police cruiser coming towards him. The house fire call came in at approx. 1745 hours and light rain was falling. In the police car’s video, you can see that the officer is not driving recklessly and slows or stops at all other intersections prior to the accident. The vol. asst. chief is a 38 year member with no prior driving accidents while responding to fire calls. From the camera’s view it is hard to believe that neither one saw the other approaching the intersection. Ironically, the vol. fire division had just sent 4 instructors to a train the trainer course for emergency vehicle driver training 1 week before the accident. Needless to say, safe driving is hot topic around the vol. station. Safe driving techniques were reviewed with all firefighters and the importance of arriving safely to the station and scene were stressed. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured and all recovering fine.
By the way the house fire was contained to bathroom in the house and it appears that it may have been caused by candles that were thought to be extinguished by the home owner prior to leaving the residence. The interior of the house also had heavy smoke and heat damage. This incident stretched our resources thin but we were able to manage both incidents at the same time.