Recalled fire trucks removed from several metro Atlanta departments

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ATLANTA - Engineers are working to figure out what caused a large ladder truck’s aerial expansion extension to collapse Tuesday, injuring three firefighters.

At least five area fire departments are parking their trucks and waiting for answers following a subsequent recall.

Three Hall County firefighters were injured when a ladder fell about 40 feet during a training exercise.

Officials identified the firefighters injured Tuesday as TJ Elliott, Will Griffin, and Stephen Jackson.

 “It's a mechanical failure,” Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell said.

Hall County Fire Department’s Scott Cagle said there were a range of injures after the Tuesday accident.

“Their injuries range from bruises to broken bones, so we are hoping for no long-term issues,” he said.

One of the injured firefighters went through surgery on Wednesday to have rods and screws placed in his back to fix two broken vertebra, and according to the department's Facebook page, he will face at least three months of recovery.

Following the incident, the truck’s maker, Sutphen Corporation, issued a voluntary recall, asking all 200 plus trucks of its type be taken out of service.

“Fortunately, we were in training,” Kimbrell said.

Besides Hall County, Channel 2 Action News learned at least four area departments have taken action.  Gwinnett and DeKalb County firefighters have pulled a total of five trucks and replaced them with backups.

Forsyth County fire officials said they parked a reserve truck following the recall.

Cobb County Fire has three Sutphen trucks and banned use of the ladders, but will still respond to calls with the trucks and said they would use them to pump water.  

It is still unclear how long the recall will last.

“If the engineers say it’s OK, I’m going to be the first one to go back up again,” Kimbrell said.

Crews were planning on lowering the truck in Hall County Wednesday to begin taking it apart, but they were ordered to wait for another engineer who is set to arrive Thursday.

Channel 2’s Tony Thomas called fire departments across metro Atlanta as soon as Channel 2 Action News learned of the recall.

Cobb County officials said their department has three trucks. They are still in service but said crews are not using the aerial parts of the trucks.

Dekalb County has two trucks and they are now out of service.

Forsyth County has one truck made by the same company, officials told Thomas. It is not covered under the recall, but was taken out of service out of an abundance of caution, officials said.

Fire officials said that taking the trucks out of service would not affect their response times.

A fund has been set up to help the families of three Hall County firefighters. 

The Gwinnett County Fire Department released the following statement about their decision to remove their trucks from service: 

"The Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services is aware of the incident in Hall County, involving the possible mechanical failure of an aerial device during training that injured three firefighters.  The department has complied with a notice from the Sutphen Corporation to remove all SPH’100 aerial devices from service.  The department maintains a fleet of 15 aerial devices, of which four are Sutphen SPH’100 models.  The SPH’100 aerials were taken out of service on Tuesday evening and were replaced with reserve aerials in order to maintain appropriate response capabilities.  The four SPH’100 aerial devices will remain out of service until they are inspected by representatives from Sutphen.  Gwinnett County continues to take prudent steps in maintaining the safety of its personnel and assuring the proper operation and maintenance of all firefighting and life safety equipment.  Additional inquiries should be directed to representatives from Sutphen."


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