So, as many of you may have heard and/or have seen on other Facebook walls and pages, one of Applegate Fire’s engines experienced an accident this past Monday.
Here’s the story…
“8501” is a 1989 Pierce “Arrow” that the District purchased used in 2011. Applegate was recently gifted and put a newer (1998 Pierce “Saber”) fire engine into service. Thank you, Medford Fire and Rescue! This has made 8501 “surplus” to our needs. Meaning, it is no longer needed to fulfill our mission, and keeping it would require maintenance and insurance that costs significant money.
On Monday, we had finished pulling all of the equipment off of 8501 and parked it in the gravel parking lot in front of the training building. It was placed on what was believed to be a flat spot in the parking lot, and the operator did not properly engage the parking brake or deploy the wheel chocks. 8501 sat parked at that location for over an hour before it began rolling (unoccupied) across the parking lot. It got up to an estimated 2 or 3 mph, took a right turn, left the parking lot, and ran into a large Pine Tree, stopping before reaching Upper Applegate Road.
Nobody was near the vehicle when this happened and nobody was hurt… fortunately.
We are definitely counting our blessings. First being that nobody was hurt and we did not adversely affect other motorists or our neighbors. (Specifically, Valley View Vineyards across the road!) Second, 8501 is 33 years old and surplus to our needs. Third, 8501 was insured. This truly could have ended a lot worse.
Moving forward, we are using this a learning lesson. Not only a review on policies and procedures about how to properly and securely park our vehicles, but also on how to handle ourselves following a mistake. Yes, the team member responsible for this has been coached on the policies. But the rest of the team is taking lessons from that individual on how to accept personal responsibility and accountability. The team member has shown great positive personal character and have been harder on themselves than anyone could have expected. I know this individual to be a VERY safety conscious person, and I will continue to trust their work and judgment.
Also, the Pine Tree that was struck received significant damage. We felt that the strength and integrity of the tree had been compromised and therefore felt that it was best to have it taken down so that it wouldn’t pose a threat to the public. Thank you to Tom Maddox Jr. for falling the tree, and the A-shift duty crew for cleaning up the mess.
It is my hope that our taxpayers do not look at this accident and think that we are negligent in caring for your tax dollars and resources. We take them very seriously and regret any losses that this accident may incur. That being said, we are actively working with our insurance company to determine our best course of action regarding this accident.
Chris Wolfard – Interim Fire Chief