Georgia Firefighters Fell More Than 40 Feet in Training Accident

A dozen or more investigators began combing through the malfunctioning Hall County fire truck that put three firefighters in the intensive care unit, reports gainesvilletimes.com.

Hall County has retained an independent forensic engineer to assist with county investigators, in addition to representatives from the cable manufacturer and the firetruck-manufacturing Sutphen Corp.

During a training exercise Tuesday, Hall firefighters TJ Elliott, Stephen Jackson and Will Griffin were injured when the bucket atop the ladder fell 44 feet. One Hall County firefighter is now recovering from back surgery, while the other two are expected to have surgeries in the next 48 hours, said Hall County fire marshal Scott Cagle.

After a visual inspection on the truck Wednesday evening, Cagle said the height of the drop appeared to be more than the previously reported 20 feet. The new number comes from measuring the pistons in the hydraulic system to see how far the firefighters dropped in the bucket.

The training exercise involved maneuvering the ladder truck that was acquired in April for the new Fire Station No. 16.

“It had gotten to almost a stopping motion when they heard a noise, and then the fall happened,” Cagle said.

The department posted a message from Chief David Kimbrell on its Facebook page Wednesday night saying one firefighter in the fall had a large hematoma on his back and two broken vertebrae. Doctors put in two rods to stabilize the vertebrae, which will put the firefighter in a back brace for several weeks, according to the message. The recovery is estimated to take 12 weeks.

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