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Pumper runaway

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  • Pumper runaway

    Has anyone else out there ever had a fire truck drive off at a fire? Either from engaging the pump the wrong way or something else. We just had a rig drive off as the engineer throttled the rig up and over came the parking brake and off it went.

    Anyone else care to share their stories? Or the how and why these things happen?
    Once in your career
    Several times
    Heard about it happeening

    The poll is expired.

  • #2
    One time, many years ago, I was pumping at a structure fire. This was an old 1954 Ahrens-Fox on a GMC commercial chassis, and it had two big levers on the floor next to the gearshift - one was for the parking brake and the other was the pump-shift.

    The apparatus was parked on a slight hill, with the nose pointing uphill.

    The fire was out, and I was ordered to disengage the pump. I swung halfway into the cab, and, with my left foot still on the running board I used my right foot to hold down the clutch. I then reached in and shifted the transmission to neutral, and reached down to shift the pump transmission back to "road". At that point, the cuff on my bunker coat snagged on the squeeze-handle on top of the brake lever, the brake fairly flew off, and the truck rolled backwards over the wheel chock. Two guys who had just placed a portable pump into the compartment over the tailboard just managed to jump out of the way. The truck rolled five or ten feet backwards before I got my feet sorted out and got the thing stopped! From then on, I always fully assumed the position when doing anything inside the cab.

    Not quite the same situation you were looking for, I know, but I bet 100% of these instances are just plain human error - not equipment failure.


    • #3
      Have I got one for you......

      In my younger days as a firefighter we were fighting a mill fire in my city and ,I was assigned to the tower a very boring position to be in when your a younger firefighter. While our tower was out 85' max extention we were supporting an inside attack on the sixth floor, we were talking with the floor chief when all of a sudden we were not, we had just drop 10 feet and was now positioned at the window of the fifth floor. After taking stock of the situtaion we realized that the driver had not placed the truck in pump all the way and the truck had drop into drive causing it to lurch forward...we were told it only moved about six inches it felt like 30 feet. Now I find no position on the fireground boring just a little more dangerous....by the way I bought new undergarment after that one ...the wife woundn't clean the old one
      IACOJ Membership 2002

      Mike IAFF

      The beatings will continue until the morale improves


      • #4
        Our old girl still bears the scar of an accidental parking brake mishap.

        The engine (79 King-Seagrave, 840 front pumper) was parked on an incline at a training burn. One of our new junior officers was reaching inside to grab the megaphone, and he accidentaly hit the parking brake lever. The engine hadn't been spotted or chocked very well, and the truck rolled back for about 40 feet with the Lieutenant hanging out the side before slamming into a large tree trunk. The L/t was thrown about 20 feet, but luckily his pride was hurt far more than he was.

        The Engine was not so lucky. The tailboard was bent up about 2 feet, and we couldn't open or close any of the 4 rear compartments. We had to send it down to the local body shop for some late night emergency surgery under the 10 ton press. It survived the night, and continues to serve us well, with only a few wrinkles remaining to remind us and every new rookie driver of the dangers of poorly parking and chocking the engine.
        Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!



        • #5
          Ok, there was a call at the firehouse for alarm sounding. We are volunteer so no one is usually at the building. There happened to be one guy there when the call came in. He decided to pull the engine out and put it in the lot next to building. As guys got there, it was determined we needed to use an electric fan. Since the truck had an inverter, it needed to be throttled up to run the fan. Well, he claims it was in pump, not in road. After about 5 minutes, we hear a little squeaking noise and turn to see the truck start rolling across the lot and into the neighbors garage.
          "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


          • #6
            I've heard of it happening, either by operator error or by pump engagement mechanical failure. I always wait in the truck for a few seconds after engaging the pump shift to confirm that the speedometer is running. That way I'm sure the truck is in pump, not road. I've noticed a lot of departments not using wheel chocks, or using old pieces of wood that are way to small for the tire being chocked.
            Member IACOJ


            • #7
              I did an internet search on pumper runaways and read about a new mexico firefighter seriously injured two years ago, a federal firefighter dying from a runaway, a san jose firefighter having the runaway hit get this his own wife’s car in a mall while she was shopping, suisun city had one a couple years back 15 yuears after another, a missouri city chief having it happen twice in one day and the guys were just used to the truck jumping out of gear or whatever on a regular basis.

              Not all rigs have speedometers that will indicate that was a rule to improve the odds and provide a visual cue if someone knew about it, not all rigs allow you to hear or feel the shift occur, if you have a detroit fire commander odds are the leds are burnt out indicating ok to pump and they are not replaceable like a majority of houston's led.

              Ya’ll have to know about more and have some stories to share, those little green lights seem fairly insignificant safety wise don’t they? The lights were placed in position to curb the runaways of automatic transmission apparatus. Imagine how much fun a runaway will be with a governor versus the old hand throttle of the past. Instead of throttling up to 1200 rpm slowing and having the rig move away from the parking brake, the governor will all at once jump to pressure and you’ll have to chase the truck and hit the tiny idle button. If you jump in the cab unless you have a kill button you ain’t stopping it, until the crash.

              Even an overheat, low oil, low voltage gives you a gauge, two lamps and a buzzer at two locations and those things can’t make a rig crash into things. What do you think, is industry too close to the NFPA on this safety issue?

              Anyone else think it is time to change the shift warnings and indications, most of these cases settle out of court and the records are sealed, that helps the injured but does not fix the problem in anyway. HEY NFPA POLICE WHAT IS YOUR EXCUSE? Kinda like the standard that says a plaque has to be on all pump panels that reads, SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH MAY RESULT IF A HOSE IS ATTACHED TO A CLOSED PUMP SUCTION VALVE Instead of requiring a dump valve and relief tht has the same test pressure as the pump, NFPA's solution is a label. You know how you get a label like that in a standard? You have cast alloy intake valves scattering yearly hurting people and equipment.


              • #8
                The whole thing is very sad, firefighters get hurt because trucks are poorly designed and the lawyers settle out of court and the manufacturers are allowed to keep selling crap.


                • #9
                  Days off from career job, I was driving an old '64 Ford LaFrance for the VFD one night on an extrication.
                  We arrive, I set park brake, chock wheels (front and back) and then pull the preconnect 1.75" line before the extrication starts. I was having motor problems with the truck right from the start, so we had a second engine enroute.
                  I returned to the apparatus, engaged the pump, rechecked the park brake, the wheel chocks and then opened the pump to tank. As I went to charge the 1.75" line, the pump panel left my grasp! I couldn't believe what I had just witnessed. I ran to the cab, checked the park brake, it was still set. I pressed on the brakes and the truck still was moving. I looked back and the second engine had hit my tailboard with his passenger side. The second truck was moving mine. It wasn't my engine that was at fault.

                  I've never had an engine move while pumping or setting.

                  Last edited by mark440; 09-07-2003, 08:49 PM.


                  • #10
                    Seen the very end of it at a worker one day.

                    Commotion, see Deputy Chief go "Holy @*#$!", and look to see a Company "C"'s tanker going into the gutter about 200' down the road, Company "B"'s driver crawling back over the guard rails high jumped over -- his tanker was parked parrallel and 9' away the guardrails. Including mirrors, most fire trucks are 8-1/2' wide...you do the math! Company B's truck was also shy most of it's compartment doors on the drivers side. For the record, the fire was in Company "A"'s area, and we where Company "D." Got photos somewhere of the aftermath...

                    That was about 10 years ago, and the tanker involved easily was 10 years older than that (Company C has a reputation for finding good, used apparatus and doing decent homegrown refurbs).

                    The exact cause, I not positive on, but since no driver was in the runaway, and we use pump-off shuttles, plus my foggy memory, it's a pretty good bet it happened when they throttled up to pump off the tanker.
                    IACOJ Canine Officer


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