Broken drive shaft on wildland engine scatters parts, damages four nearby vehicles

Failed BLM engine driveshaft

Failed BLM engine driveshaftHere is the Executive Summary from a Non-Serious Accident Investigation report of a drive shaft failure on a BLM engine that was traveling on US Highway 95 near Las Vegas on July 10, 2011.

Executive Summary

At approximately 1100 hours on July 10, 2011, the front drive shaft on Bureau of Land Management Southern Nevada District Fire Engine 5442 broke and separated from the vehicle. The vehicle was travelling at approximately 60 miles per hour on US 95 near Las Vegas, Nevada. This failure caused severe damage to the engine, totaled one and moderately damaged three other privately owned vehicles that were travelling in the vicinity of the accident. No injuries occurred. Engine 5442 is a 2002 class 667 (Type 4) International 4800 4X4 with 76,928 miles and approximately 3200 hours of use at the time of the accident.

Here is a link to the entire report.

This reminds me of the multiple rear axle failures we used to have on Engine 42, an International Model 51, working out of Mount Laguna, California. Thankfully, none of the failures were as dramatic as the one the BLM engine crew experienced. Our crew got pretty good at replacing the axles. By the time the USFS mechanic showed up with the replacement axles, we had the pieces of the broken one removed. I tried to talk the mechanics into letting us keep a spare axle on hand, but they wouldn’t buy it.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

One thought on “Broken drive shaft on wildland engine scatters parts, damages four nearby vehicles”

  1. Back in the day, O about 1987, I was with a strike Team of Type III engines. We were traveling just outside of Boise, the lead engine (A 4×4 Model 50) rear axle and drive line broke and drove down into the pavement of the highway, sending parts and pieces flying all over, before the operator could bring the engine to a stop, the rear end of the engine also blow, when the engine did come to a stop , the crew bailed off that engine not knowing what was next. Thank god No one was hurt, The freeway was on a long down grade, so all the engines were moving at a good clip ( at least 55) you should have seen 1 model 51 and 3 model 60’s trying to avoid all the parts that were flying, Needless to say that engine went home on a lowboy…..


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