(DE)(12-17-2020) Citizens’ Hose Company (Smyrna, DE) Engine 4 in Blocking Position Damaged When Struck By SUV on Icy Road

At 0324 on December 17, 2020, Citizens’ Hose Company Engine 44-4 and American Legion Ambulance 64 dispatched for a motor vehicle collision on Route 1 northbound at Mill Creek in Smyrna, Delaware. Route 1 at that location is two lanes northbound and two lanes southbound with a wide median and a 65 mph speed limit. The weather was icy, cold, and windy. An Infiniti sedan had slid off the northbound right shoulder, traveled down an embankment, and struck a fence.

Engine 4 assumed an angled blocking position across the right shoulder and right lane with its emergency lights activated. Ambulance 64 and a police cruiser parked downstream of the engine. Fire Police deployed advance warning 1/8 of a mile upstream of the incident location. As crews were actively working the scene, a Chevrolet Avalanche traveling northbound toward the accident scene skidded while crossing a bridge. The driver lost control of the Avalanche, narrowly missed hitting upstream Fire Police, and crashed into the left rear corner of Engine 4. The engine moved about 8” to 12” from the force of the impact. The Engine 4 driver/operator was inside the apparatus at the time it was struck but was not injured. The driver/operator’s normal position at that time would have been on the exposed side that was struck. All other crew members were down the embankment at the original crash scene when Engine 4 was struck, however 30 seconds earlier two of them had been on top of the truck.

Fire crews extricated the Avalanche driver and transported her to the hospital with serious injuries. No emergency response personnel were injured.

The Emergency Responder Safety Institute produced a video on this incident, including the recollections of the personnel involved in the incident, the role of traffic control in protecting these responders from being struck, the impact on the members of Citizens’ Hose Company, lessons learned, and changes moving forward.

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