Fire truck crash during a breakfast run stirs controversy - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Fire truck crash during a breakfast run stirs controversy


Walker County residents want answers after a firefighter crashed a truck paid for by tax payers.

He was on a breakfast run when he hit a light pole. He damaged the truck that cost more than a half a million dollars.

This story started a firestorm on social media. Hundreds of people took to the web to blast or defend the firefighters. Emergency officials told Channel 3 it's protocol for a firefighter to be with the truck at all times, and that's meant to keep you safe.

The firefighter from Station 6 pulled into Fred's parking lot in Chickamauga to get breakfast next door, when he somehow hit the light pole.

Walker County emergency officials said he was an experienced driver. "We have standards that are beyond the average fire department in our training guidelines. This is an accident. He was drug tested as a requirement of policy," said Walker County Director of Emergency Services David Ashburn.

Chickamauga Police handled the crash scene. They told Channel 3 they saw no signs of a DUI.

Ashburn said the truck came to Walker County late last summer at a price tag of more than $600,000. A grant from the Department of Homeland Security paid for most of it. The county picked up the rest of the tab. He said the truck is fully insured, but the county will likely have to pay a $1,000 deductible for the accident.

But the fact that this truck was used to pick up breakfast doesn't sit will with some Walker County residents.

Debbie Durham said on Facebook, "I have seen this big truck just cruising thru Chickamauga when there is no emergencies. I have often wondered about that fuel cost and why they don't use the small ones. They do have smaller trucks, you know even a personal vehicle."

Ashburn said firefighters typically eat at the station, but when they don't, they take their emergency vehicle to be ready for a call at a moment's notice.

"A fire can double every three minutes. So that extra time to get them [back to the station] versus that truck sitting right there, them jump in it and go directly to it, means the difference in people's lives and property, everything," said Ashburn.

Not everyone is critical of the fire department.

James Adams said on Facebook, "Apparently no one likes the idea of the firefighters being at Fred's, and everyone is worried about their tax dollars going to waste, but if you're in a car accident or your house catches on fire, you beg for help, and these firemen are proud to help you, and they don't complain."

Even though Station 6 is down a truck, Ashburn said it's not a total loss.

"It's got more than adequate equipment still in it. It's got the pumpers and ladder and rescue trucks and everything. It's more equipped now than it ever was when it was run by the city," he said.

Ashburn told us it's going to take about a month to get the ladder truck fixed.

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