The driver of the fire engine that struck and killed a Phoenix firefighter at a mulch fire in May did not use a spotter as he drove his 37,000-pound truck in reverse.
The spotter is required, according to Phoenix fire policy, and an investigative team in the Fire Department is continuing to review a police report released to determine what changes the agency can make to its operational procedures to reduce the chances of such a fatality happening again.
Phoenix Firefighter Brad Harper, 23, was trapped between the engine and a door of his rescue ambulance shortly after 5:30 p.m. May 18 as crews from throughout the city responded to the mulch fire in southwest Phoenix.
Harper was extricated from between the two vehicles because paramedics feared he would die if they moved either of the trucks. Harper was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center the following morning.
Police investigators found that Harper’s truck, Rescue 21, was parked facing northbound on 39th Avenue when the fire engine’s driver was told to go back to Lower Buckeye Road to work with another engine. The firefighter began driving his truck, Engine 24, in reverse on 39th Avenue when Harper’s partner yelled at the engine to stop.
At the same time, Harper’s partner “heard a metal on metal sound,” according to the report.
Police investigators concluded that no civil or criminal charges were necessary in the case.
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