OLD GREENWICH, CT - An effort to reduce the number of accidents involving Central Greenwich fire department vehicles has resulted in a decrease in crash frequency, however maintenance repair costs are unchanged, reported the Greenwich Time.
In the past two fiscal years, the number of fire department vehicle accidents dropped from 24 in 2006-2007 to 8 in 2007-2008, according to reports from town officials.
Despite the significant reduction, records show the cost of repairing the town vehicles only decreased by approximately $7,800.
In 2006-2007, accident damage to department vehicles cost $61,891 compared to $54,075 in 2007-2008.
A serious 2008 caused extensive damage to a fire engine that totaled up to $30,000," Robert Kick, assistant fire chief told the Greenwich Time.
Several changes to protocol, according to Kick, have lessened the frequency of accidents, which means less chance for injuries.
One major change has been to slow the response of secondary vehicles to fire calls. Currently, when dispatch receives a call for a fire or automatic alarm, the department automatically dispatches three engines and one ladder vehicle, officials said. Those vehicles always respond at a high speed with lights and sirens activated. However, unless firefighters at the scene request additional back up, secondary trucks and vehicles from volunteer departments now respond at a slower speed, and the engine responds with the flow of traffic without lights and sirens. Kick said the change was implemented in 2007. Previously, all fire vehicles available would respond at a higher rate of speed.
The department said accident investigation has improved to determine how an incident could have been prevented, reported Greenwich Time.
"I think it's a different atmosphere out there now," Kick told Greenwich Time. "We were always safety-oriented, but when you get in an accident with a fire apparatus, it's pretty damaging, so we wanted to keep an eye on that."
The department attributes a more standardized fleet of vehicles that are easier to drive and the addition of deputy chiefs who supervise trucks on the road to the decrease in accidents as well.
"The chief has put greater emphasis on safety and the proper use of town equipment," said Larry Simon, member of the Board of Estimation and Taxation. Simon also notes that fewer accidents means less legal liability and expenses for the town, since fire engines are expensive," as quoted in the Greenwich Time.
Kick is hopeful the department will continue to decrease this trend and strives for zero accidents per year in the future. So far this fiscal year, five accidents have been reported, resulting in $13,608 worth of damage, according to Greenwich Time.