Fire Chief Angered By School Van Driver
Frigid temperatures and a stubborn fire made it difficult for City of Newburgh firefighters on Wednesday morning at a Broadway structure fire.
According to Newburgh's Fire Chief Terry Ahlers, the fire required 32 members of his department along with 40 more from surrounding departments to extinguish the fully-involved fire. Due to the 19-degree air temperature, icing conditions were present making it even more difficult to move around and get water on the fire.
At one point during the fire, Chief Ahlers was alerted to a student-transport van that had driven around a barricade in an attempt to get to his destination. The van, operated by an employee of George M. Carroll, Inc. drove over a 'supply-line' hose which is the hose that supplies water from the hydrant to the fire engine and then on to the firefighters attempting to put the fire out. The van got stuck on the hose, further complicating firefighting efforts.
Chief Ahlers questioned the driver who stated that he, "needed to get through the scene so the child would not be late for school." Ahlers pointed out that not only was driving over a fire hose very unsafe but the ice-covered windshield on the school bus was also a hazard.
Ahlers has some words of advice to individuals that think it's okay to go around barricades and drive through a fire scene, "don't do it!" Additionally, he said, "drivers should never drive over a hose line. The water is a lifeline to whoever is working at the other end. A hose that is damaged due to a vehicle driving over it could result in injuries to firefighters or to anyone who gets caught in it as the vehicle drags it along."
The hose that was driven over by the student transporter will be replaced due to damage caused by the motorist according to Ahlers who called it "an expensive mistake."