Four firemen escape serious injuries in accident Monday

Published 12:34 pm Thursday, July 28, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
Four firemen escaped serious injury Monday evening after the fire truck they were traveling in overturned on Hwy. 4 in Bratt, Fla.
The firemen were answering a call to assist the Walnut Hill Volunteer Fire Department with extricating a driver from an overturned vehicle involved in an accident at 4100 West Hwy. 4 just down from Northview High School when they were involved in an accident of their own.
According to a release issued by the Florida Highway Patrol, McDavid Fire Department's Eric W. Gilmore, 28, was traveling westbound on Hwy. 4 with emergency lights and sirens activated. A vehicle in front of the fire truck started to pull off the road to the right and stopped partially on the roadway. While attempting to pass the vehicle, Gilmore had to swerve back to the right to avoid an oncoming vehicle and overcorrected causing the truck to overturn onto its left side.
"It's fortunate that the firemen weren't seriously hurt and it was fortunate that they didn't strike any vehicles," Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Terry McCormick said. "I've been on 24 years and I think I've worked fire truck and ambulance wrecks, but they're rare."
McDavid firemen Matt Gilmore and Benjamin Gilmore, and Century fireman Chris Barrow were all occupants of the fire truck during the accident, which occurred around 5:20 p.m. All the firemen were transported to West Florida Hospital where they were treated and released for minor injuries.
"We're very thankful that no civilians were injured and that our firemen only suffered minor injuries," Century Fire Department assistant chief David Adams said. "The truck did its job; it protected the occupants inside. We can get a new truck. We can't replace these firemen."
Adams said it isn't rare for rescue vehicles to be involved in accidents.
"It's not that uncommon in the fire service, but we have not had a vehicle involved in a major accident before," he said.
Several fire departments responded to the accident including the Atmore, Walnut Hill, Flomaton, Molino, Jay, Ensley and Brent fire and rescue departments.
"Any time you have a call where a firemen is down, any fireman worth his salt is going to do the best he can to get there," Adams said. "We had a large response. Some of them didn't make it though because we called them off."
Besides wanting to assist their fallen firemen, Adams said the other departments didn't know if the equipment necessary to extricate them would be available.
"That was the heavy rescue from the north end of the county," he said. "They didn't know how bad the extrication was going to be, so they responded with everything available."
All the firemen involved were part of Escambia County Fire and Rescue Squad.

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