Bowling Green Fire Department, 1898

Fire Flashback: Fire Truck Collision, July 1966

From The Daily News
July 25, 1966

"A deplorable incident" and "blessing in disguise" are terms City Manager Harold J. Hilliard used Wednesday afternoon in describing a traffic accident earlier in the day involving two city fire trucks. Hilliard made the comments during an hour long informal inquiry into the cause of the 9:30 a.m. collision between pumpers No. 1 and 3, both from Central Fire Station. He said he found no "Dereliction of duty" on the part of either truck driver, but added:

"I think the accident was caused by the inexperience of Bonds, (fireman Buddy Wayne Bonds, driver of pumper No. 1 that struck a second fire truck) and the fact that he was following the other truck too closely.

Hilliard labeled the accident a "deplorable incident" but said it was a "blessing in disguise" in that it will create a reassessment of the knowledge of a fire truck, pumps and related fire equipment. He suggested that Fire Chief Lonnie Bellamy remove Bonds as a driver until Bonds is given a test in the operation and handling of the pumpers.

Bonds and fireman James Cooksey, driver of the second fire truck were among the crews and officer in charge of the trucks that were questioned during the inquiry. Cooksey said his unit left the fire station first en route to an alarm at 420 College St. Bonds said he followed Cooksey from the fire station and maintained a distance of 50 to 75 feet behind the first pumper along 10th St. to State St. and along State to 4th St. where teh accident occurred.

Hilliard questioned why Bonds told police Capt. James Penders, who investigated the accident, he thought the lead truck was attempting a right turn from State St. rather than a left turn onto 4th to College St. toward the fire. Bonds told Hilliard he applied the truck brakes, but the pumper, which recently underwent extensive engine repairs and was repainted, skidded and plowed into the left side of pumper No. 3.

Cooksey explained that he "swung wide" as he turned onto 4th St. from State because a small foreign made car was stopped on 4th St. at a traffic sign. As Cooksey's truck made the wide turn Bond's bumper struck the side of the lead truck, according to police reports.

Hilliard, in questioning Bonds, learned he is a relief or substitute driver and has driven pumpers only three to four times in answering alarms. He suggested Fire Department drivers or engineers learn the distance in feet required to stop a loaded pumper at various speeds. Hilliard also suggested that fireman Bobby Chaney, who was thrown to the street from the rear of pumper No. 3 by the impact of the crash, be examined for possible injuries. No injuries were reported in the accident.

Hilliard recommended Bellamy meet with ranking officers and department personnel and work out a plan for the distance trucks should trail another and maximum speed limits. Bellamy said such a plan already had been worked out and is posted for officers and engineers to read. He said he has received no estimates for repair of the two trucks nor for a car driven by Kenneth Meredith, Bee Springs, that was struck a glancing blow by the fire trucks.

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