A crash involving two Tulsa fire trucks in September revealed most firefighters in that department don’t wear seat belts.
News On 6 found someone had disabled the buzzers that remind firefighters to buckle up, not just on one or two fire engines, but on the majority of Tulsa Fire Department’s fleet.
Two fire trucks were collided in downtown, both going 25 miles an hour through a blind intersection. Though both had cameras on board, one was pointed down until the collision.
The firefighters were not hurt, but the fire chief considers that just luck.
“I know, for me, it was very sickening to see it, first thinking we would have hurt firefighters or citizens involved, but thankfully that wasn’t the case here,” said Tulsa Fire Chief Ray Driskell.
The internal investigation of the accident determined four of eight firefighters on board were not wearing seatbelts. What’s more, the seatbelt alarms had been disabled on purpose. The chief demoted two men and disciplined three others involved in the accident.
Then, a wider inspection found most trucks had been tampered with, so that firefighters could go without seatbelts without hearing the alarm.
“I don’t think we want to spend the man hours and resources trying to find out who did what, but I sent out a stern email saying, if anyone is found to tamper with any safety device, a ladder truck or whatever, there will be some action taken against those people, because we won’t tolerate that,” Driskell said.
The damage from the crash doesn’t look severe, but the department believes repairs could top $200,000.
Because of the potential loss of life and intentional violation of safety rules, the department now dispatches a seatbelt reminder with each call.
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