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City faces dilemma paying for damaged ladder truck

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Friday, August 29, 2014

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The entire left side of the Greer Fire Department ladder truck was damaged.
 

Greer Fire Department

The entire left side of the Greer Fire Department ladder truck was damaged.

 



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The impact up damaged steps, gauges and instruments, according to Fire Chief Chris Harvey.
 

Greer Fire Department

The impact up damaged steps, gauges and instruments, according to Fire Chief Chris Harvey.

 

The Greer Fire Department is without its ladder truck for two months and the city is wrestling with how to pay more than $30,000 in excess of the insurance the driver, who caused the damage, carried.

Damage to the 17-year-old aerial truck has exceeded $55,000 and the meter is still running.  Chief Chris Harvey said the truck is being repaired in Piedmont and won’t be back in service until at least mid-October to Nov. 1.

“That has put us in a difficult position,” City Administrator Ed Driggers told city council Tuesday night. Driggers wasn’t only referring to the truck’s unavailability.

“The driver of the vehicle was insured for $25,000 and that leaves the rest for the city to pay,” Driggers said. The balance could come from the city filing an insurance claim or to pay with taxpayer money. Filing a claim could eventually cost the city more in insurance premiums than paying the balance outright. Driggers asked council, “Does the penalties outweigh the claim amount?”

Another option Driggers is considering is through the courts, which would go after the driver’s assets to remedy the claim.

A driver reportedly fell asleep at the wheel of his Ford 150 truck on Hwy. 290 at an intersection with a 3-way stop in the late July incident, Harvey said. The driver’s vehicle went out of control, sideswiped the entire left side of the ladder truck and then plowed into a tree, Harvey said.

The fire truck was returning from a test earlier that evening. “Our guy saw the accident developing and pulled as far over as he could, and couldn’t do anything about it,” Harvey said. “We’re just lucky it didn’t hit the bucket or it could have easily added another $20,000 or more.”

Harvey said it was also fortunate the 17-year-old ladder truck was the second to be tested that day. The newly acquired $425,000pumper truck was tested earlier that day.

Damages to the ladder truck included the entire left panel, which houses the nerve center for the truck with all its gauges and instruments. The left tire was destroyed and door to the driver’s cab damaged. “A gas gauge was also cracked,” said Harvey.

Harvey said insurance agents submitted 19 pages for the estimate and identifying the damages. “There may be more damages. As they pull things off they may find more. Everything is custom made and it will take time get the truck back,” Harvey said.

There is a protocol the Greer Fire Department has with other nearby stations that have ladder trucks to assist in a call. 

 

 

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