Five firefighters injured in California rollover crash

Five firefighters were injured when their vehicle crashed on Interstate 5 near Tehama, California Wednesday September 26. Four of them with minor injuries were taken to a hospital in Red Bluff and a fifth with major injuries was transported to St. Elizabeth hospital in Paradise.

firestormThe firefighters were members of a crew operated by Firestorm Wildland Fire Suppression Inc.

According to media reports the northbound truck went off the edge of the highway to the right. As the driver tried to steer it back onto the road, he lost control, went across both northbound lanes, entered the center divider and overturned.

A year ago a truck operated by the same company was involved in another single vehicle rollover accident on Highway 299 near Cedarville, California. In that case the driver tried to avoid hitting a vehicle that had stopped due to a deer being in the road.

This is the 60th article we have posted on Wildfire Today tagged “rollover”.

Lessons Learned Review released for engine rollover near Meeker, Colorado

Above: the photo above is from the LLR.

A Lessons Learned Review has been released for an engine that rolled over while working on the Fawn Fire near Meeker, Colorado July 8 ,2018.

The entire document is HERE.  Below is the Executive Summary:

On July 8th at approximately 2325, on the Fawn Fire near Meeker Colorado, a cooperating fire department engine (Engine 1) rolled off the roadway as they were travelling from the fire back to Incident Command Post (ICP). Due to a high volume of fire traffic and very dry conditions, the road surface was extremely dusty and visibility was often severely reduced.

As Engine 1 was departing the fire area, they were the second to last vehicle in a convoy of 5 vehicles. Approximately a half mile after leaving the fire and headed back down County Road 29, Engine 1 encountered near zero-visibility due to dust and started to slow down. This reduction in visibility occurred in a short section of the road where the road bed narrowed due to erosional sloughing. Unable to see the upcoming road bed hazard, the engine operator continued driving straight as he was slowing the engine down. The front passenger [-side] tire travelled off the roadway, and the engine rolled off the embankment and down about 75 feet before coming to rest in the creek bottom back on its tires.

Although there was substantial damage to the cab of the engine, all the vehicle occupants were wearing their seat belts and only sustained minor injuries (bruising, chest and back pain). Due to the heavy dust, none of the other convoy vehicles knew immediately that the rollover had happened. A rapid response from other vehicles in the convoy occurred after it was discovered that Engine 1 had rolled off the road.

The three crewmembers of Engine 1 were assessed for injuries and then driven back to the ICP. At the ICP, an ambulance that had been called to respond met the Engine 1 crew and transported them to a local medical facility in Meeker. After a thorough medical assessment, it was determined that no serious injuries had occurred, and all 3 were released from the hospital at approximately 0630 on the morning of July 9th.

Thankfully there were no serious injuries.

fire engine rollover colorado
Photo from the LLR.

The report stated, “The Headache Rack saved the cab from crushing worse than it did.” A body-mounted “headache rack” is only designed to prevent cargo from entering the passenger compartment during a sudden stop and is far to weak to provide serious rollover protection.

This is the 59th article on Wildfire Today that is tagged “rollover”. These accidents are common, and wildland fire engines should be designed with real frame-mounted roll bars, not cheap-ass expanded metal grates protecting the glass in the rear window.

We wrote more about roll bars and headache racks HERE.

And, the photo below is from an article about real rollover protection on a fire engine.

Mercedes Benz G-wagon fire engine
Mercedes Benz G-wagon engine. Photo by Victoria Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

The next two photos are from the LLR.

fire engine rollover colorado
Photo from the LLR.
fire engine rollover colorado
Photo from the LLR.

Report on dozer rollover on the Carr Fire in Northern California

CAL FIRE has released a “Green Sheet” report on the accident that occurred August 1, 2018

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has released a Green Sheet report about the rollover of a dozer that occurred August 1, 2018 on the Carr Fire west of Redding, California.

Below are excerpts from the 14-page report:

“At approximately 7:00 AM on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, two CWN bulldozers (DOZ1 and DOZ2) were 24 hour resources assigned to Branch III, Division D on the Carr incident. DOZ1’s operator (OP1) had been assigned to the same area on the previous 24-hour operational period (south of HWY 299E on County Line Road) and worked the night shift (7:00 PM to 7:00 AM). OP1 had 4 years of bulldozer operating experience and at least 17 years in the logging industry. OP1 had used the bulldozer extensively in Sonoma and Napa counties in the Fall of 2017.

[…]

“At approximately 12:30 AM, STL1 looked toward DOZ1, located up the spur ridge and observed DOZ1 close to the steeper east aspect of the spur ridge. From STL1’s vantage point, DOZ1 was facing him and appeared to be tilted to the right at approximately 40-45 degrees. STL1 observed DOZ1 attempt to climb back to the center of the spur ridge in reverse. While DOZ1 backed, STL1 further observed the front of DOZ1 abruptly rotated 90 degrees to the left and the front of the dozer lift into the air. DOZ1 then lost traction and slid backwards downhill, at which time STL1 saw DOZ1 roll twice, end over end, before he lost sight of it down the slope. STL1 could hear DOZ1 continue to roll down the slope, and then stop. STL1 went to the edge of the slope where DOZ1 left the ridgetop, and could see DOZ1 approximately 300 feet downslope.

“At approximately 12:32 AM, STL1 notified Branch II (t) of the accident and his intention to proceed to DOZ1 to ascertain injuries and needs. STL1 contacted DOZ2 to cease operations and then proceeded to DOZ1’s location. Branch II Safety Officer and Division C Fireline Medics responded to the accident site. Carr Communications was notified of the accident at 12:34 AM by Branch II (t).

“While walking downslope to DOZ1, STL1 heard the engine speed fluctuating up and down. STL1 found the dozer upright on its tracks with the cab still intact. STL1 observed movement inside the bulldozer cab. DOZ1 appeared to be stable and STL1 boarded the dozer on the uphill (right) side. The right cab door was jammed and would only open a couple of inches. STL1 contacted OP1 and did a quick visual assessment. OP1 suffered injuries to the head but was alert and oriented.

“At approximately 12:35 AM, STL1 updated Branch II (t) of OP1’s condition via radio. Branch II (t) advised STL1 to follow the “Incident Within an Incident” protocol in the Incident Action Plan. OP1 self-extricated through the left cab door. With OP1 sitting on the ground, STL1 performed a thorough secondary patient assessment. A night hoist capable helicopter was requested due to mechanism of injury, patient location, and extended ground transport time to a medical facility. A California National Guard night vision equipped 24-hour helicopter medivac resource, assigned to the incident, responded from Redding Helibase and an Advanced Life Support ground ambulance was dispatched to Hwy 299E and County Line Road (Buckhorn Summit) from their staging area in west Redding.

“Division C Fireline Medics arrived at the accident site at 1:35 AM. Due to a heavy smoke inversion, the helicopter experienced difficulty accessing the accident site and at 2:01 AM, Division C Medics cancelled the helicopter and walked OP1 out to meet the ground ambulance. OP1 was transferred to the ALS ambulance at 2:43 AM and began transport to Mercy Medical Center with a 2-hour estimated time of arrival…”

Carr Fire Dozer Rollover California
The rollover path of the dozer accident on the Carr Fire, August 1, 2018. Image from the CAL FIRE Green Sheet.

Water tender rollover on the South Umpqua Complex

It occurred July 26, 2018

In searching for a report about the rollover of a dozer transport, I ran across this very brief “24-hour preliminary report” about a water tender rollover. It occurred July 26, 2018 on the South Umpqua Complex on the “Umpqua National Forest and Medford BLM”. There is no indication that a Rapid Lesson Sharing report is being prepared.

Below is the text from the report, dated July 27, 2018:


Location: South Umpqua Complex, Umpqua National Forest and Medford BLM
Date of Occurrence: July 26, 2018
Time of Occurrence: Approximately 2400
Activity: Wildland Fire Suppression
Number of Injuries: 0
Number of Fatalities: 0
Property Damage: damage to non-federal contract operated water tender
Narrative: A water tender assigned to the South Umpqua Complex Fire was traveling on an unpaved road and rolled backwards off the road resulting in the vehicle rolling on its side. The vehicle came to a rest on the driver’s side. There was only one crew member, that individual was transported back to base camp. There were no injuries.

Rollover of a trailer loaded with a dozer on Cougar Creek Fire

Above: A trailer loaded with a D-5 dozer rolled over on the Cougar Creek Fire in Idaho August 10, 2018. Incident Management Team photo.

(Updated at 8:55 a.m. PDT September 6, 2018)

A trailer loaded with a Caterpillar D-5H dozer rolled over while it was being relocated on the Cougar Creek Fire about 26 miles west of Chelan, Washington. A Peterbilt dump truck was pulling the triple-axle transport trailer as it travelled downhill on USFS Road 5700 near Pine Flats Campground.

About halfway down the grade the driver said the brakes failed on both the truck and the trailer. As the speed increased on the curvy one-lane road the driver attempted to slow down by driving off the edge of the road in soft dirt. After negotiating several curves the trailer climbed up a bank causing it to tip over onto its side. The truck and the trailer came to a stop on the road.

The report we saw did not indicate that the truck rolled over, but it had damage to the front end, bumper, headlights, and the rear trailer hitch. On the trailer the hitch was damaged and three tires were punctured. There was some damage to the dozer but the driver was not injured.

The preliminary report suggested to prevent similar accidents drivers should use lower gears and slower speeds when driving downhill to reduce overheating the brakes.

The accident occurred at 4:10 p.m. on August 10. We have an unconfirmed report that approximately 200 contractors and agency personnel were trapped due to the blocked road and had to remain without logistical support overnight at a drop point which did not qualify as a safety zone.  When the Rapid Lesson Sharing team arrived the next day at least some of the personnel refused to speak to them about the incident.

(This article was revised to clarify that the incident occurred on the Cougar Creek Fire, rather than the Cougar Fire.)

Dozer rollover on Holy Fire in SoCal

The operator was wearing a seat belt and was not injured. It happened August 12, 2018.

Dozer rollover, Holy Fire, 8-12-2018
Dozer rollover, Holy Fire, 8-12-2018.

A dozer rolled over while constructing fireline on the Holy Fire in Southern California on August 12, 2018. Below is the text from the Rapid Lesson Sharing report:


Narrative
This day, August 12, was hot. I was part way through my shift as a dozer operator. My assignment for the day was putting in another blade of dozer line across the ridge and along the black in my Division. This was my second day working this piece of the line.

The terrain was rocky and steep. I was using the dozer to sidehill along the black. Due to dusty conditions working the dozer, visibility was marginal.

Around noon, I was working on a section of line that had a brush pile I was clearing out. The brush was pretty thick. I therefore didn’t realize that I was about to roll up onto a large boulder that was hidden under the brush pile.

Rolling up on this boulder made the dozer tip over on its side. It all seemed to happen in slow motion. There was no violent bounce. I was wearing my seatbelt which kept me in the cab during the rollover. I was able to remove myself from the cab. I realized that I had no injuries from this incident.

A Dozer Strike Team was able to upright my dozer back onto its track. Ground Support inspected the dozer and found no damage.

Lessons

  • Use a swamper to scout for possible hazards ahead of dozer line construction.
  • When operating a dozer, don’t feel pressured to stay directly against the black when a “safer line” may pull away from the black for a little ways.