Findings: Spotter not used in fatal Ariz. fire truck accident

Phoenix firefighter Brad Harper, 23, was trapped between the engine and a door of his rescue ambulance May 18 as crews from the city responded to a mulch fire


PHOENIX — Officials determined that the driver of a fire engine, which struck and killed a firefighter in May, did not use a spotter as he drove the truck in reverse.

AZCentral reported that the fire department is trying to determine what changes the agency can make to its operational procedures to reduce the chances of such a fatality happening again.

Phoenix firefighter Brad Harper, 23, was trapped between the engine and a door of his rescue ambulance May 18 as crews from the city responded to a mulch fire, according to the report.

Firefighter Harper was extricated from between the two vehicles, because medics feared he would die if they moved the trucks, according to the report. Firefighter Harper was pronounced dead at a local hospital the following morning.

Investigators found that the fire engine’s driver was told to go back and work with another engine, began driving his truck in reverse, and struck firefighter Harper’s truck after his partner “heard a metal on metal sound,” according to the report.

Phoenix Fire Chief Bob Khan said the team will probably address a few specific areas, including the use of a spotter. Chief Khan could not say whether there would be any further disciplinary action for the engine’s driver, according to the report.

“We take it very seriously that we don’t want Brad’s death to be in vain,” Khan said. “But I don’t know that you can punish your way to correcting that behavior; it needs to be an organizational shift starting with me.”

Chief Khan reinforced the need for situational awareness during emergency calls throughout the department the day after Harper’s death, according to the report.

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