Ga. fire chief relieved of command after aerial failure

FireRescue1 Staff

HALL COUNTY, Ga. — Fire Chief David Kimbrell has been relieved of command over fire services following a mishap with a fire truck last month that injured three firefighters.

The Gainesville Times reported that Chief Kimbrell will retain his post as Emergency Management Agency director. Jeff Hood has been named interim fire chief.

During a training exercise in July, firefighters TJ Elliott, Stephen Jackson and Will Griffin were seriously injured when the bucket atop a fire truck ladder fell 44 feet. Elliott and Jackson were both airlifted to a hospital, while Griffin was treated at a medical center.

"I am anxious to find the cause of the truck accident more than anyone," Chief Kimbrell wrote in an internal email Monday morning obtained by The Times. "I look forward to what (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) finds when they come in to do their investigation, and the final report of the county and their investigation. Hopefully, that will prevent this from ever happening somewhere else and will prevent this from happening here again."

The ladder truck was acquired in April and was sold by a fire department that previously owned it because of mechanical problems, according to the report.

Chief Kimbrell’s involvement in the purchase of the defective fire truck played a critical role in his departure from the fire department, according to the report.

"We have discussed the fact that because (Kimbrell) was involved with the purchase of the truck, it would be better off if we had someone else running the department while we are trying to figure out what happened with the truck," Commissioner Craig Lutz said. "We don’t want any appearance of bias in this investigation. Our goal is to identify what happened and prevent it from ever happening again."

County officials said there is no timeline for concluding their investigation into what caused the accident, according to the report. Officials have asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to conduct its own investigation, set to begin Sept. 2, according to the report.

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