by: Scott Wickersham Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte fire chief said a ladder truck was going too fast when it flipped over and caught fire on Ardrey Kell Road.
The report said the truck was going almost double the speed limit and the driver claimed the brakes failed.
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The report said the truck was going 44 mph in a 25 mph zone, responding to a man who was injured when he fell off a ladder.
The driver, 33-year-old Mark Staker, said his auxiliary brake failed to engage and the truck skidded, then flipped.
The emergency lights and sirens were on, the report indicated.
The estimated damage to the truck is $800,000.
Charlotte Fire Chief Jon Hannan said his department is taking the accident very seriously.
“I’m not going to have fire trucks become a threat to people in this city,” Hannan said.
Staker has driven fire trucks for nine years but is suspended from driving for now and could face disciplinary action, Hannan said.
Fire trucks are allowed to break the speed limit but “as soon as the operator is above that speed limit it’s all on them,” the chief said. “They have to do it with due regard. They are responsible for any outcomes that are caused by that.”
The Charlotte Fire Department fleet and manufacturer experts will check to see if the auxiliary brake was working.
In the meantime, Hannan said what they learn from the crash will be included in their next round of training.
A city spokesman said they will be convening what's called a Critical Incident Review Board this week to decide if any policies or rules need to change.
As for the truck, the chief said it was 12 years old, at the end of its life cycle and only worth about $40,000 at auction.
Another truck has taken its place in Ballantyne.
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