While approaching a traffic signal at the intersection closest to the fire station, the fire truck had a red light, but continued with its left turn from Second Avenue Southeast to Fifth Street Southeast. The truck’s emergency lights were activated, but not its siren when the accident happened on Tuesday, April 24, at 5:55 p.m., according to the Georgia State Patrol.
When it entered the intersection, the fire truck hit the front of a 1979 Mercury Cougar XR7 traveling north on Fifth Street. The car’s driver, who had the right-of-way, told state troopers that he did not hear the fire truck’s siren.
The driver of the Cougar escaped injury, but his passenger was taken by EMS to Grady General Hospital due to complaints of pain in the upper body. The car suffered disabling damage and had to be towed from the scene, the GSP report states.
Neither the driver nor the three passengers on the fire truck suffered any injuries, the report states.
Since the truck and crew were busy with the accident investigation, another fire crew and truck responded to the call for medical lift assistance, according to Cairo Fire Chief Jim Fielding.
Chief Fielding said since the accident he has tightened safety at the fire department and conducted a partial safety stand down.
He said an internal investigation revealed that a standard procedure normally used on emergency calls was not followed at the fire station moments prior to the accident.
That procedure calls for someone at the fire station to activate a system that takes control of the traffic signal and gives their fire trucks a green light, allowing them to proceed safely through the intersection of Second Avenue and Fifth Street Southeast.
The fire engine was being driven by Rusty Powe and passengers included Joshie King, Daniel D. Sheffield and Willard K. Barfield.
Chief Fielding said he has taken disciplinary action in the accident, but he declined to provide specifics on that action.
The fire truck remains operational and is roadworthy, according to Chief Fielding. However, repair of the damage is estimated at $2,300.
No one was cited in the accident by the Georgia State Patrol.