After fire truck flips on runway, Brac airport still closed to jets

A fire trunk is in ruins after flipping over on Cayman Brac's only runway.

Cayman Brac’s airport will remain closed to jet traffic until a new fire truck is shipped to the island to replace the vehicle that flipped over on the runway Thursday.

Cayman Airways, the only operator which flies jet aircraft into the Brac, was forced to cancel flights and reshuffle its schedule over the weekend. The smaller Twin-Otter and Saab prop planes which service the route between the Brac and Grand Cayman are still able to land and were deployed to minimize passenger disruption.

Air safety guidelines require at least two fire trucks to be on standby for a jet to be able to land, officials said.

Fire and airport officials are “in the process of identifying an interim strategy that will support the resumption of jet services at the earliest opportunity,” according to a government statement Friday evening.

A fire truck flipped over during what was described by officials as a “mandatory speed test.”

Cayman Airways CEO Fabian Whorms said the airline had canceled jet services between the Brac and Miami, Havana, Cuba, and Grand Cayman over the weekend, re-booking passengers through Grand Cayman.

There are no jet services operating through the Brac from Monday through Thursday. The next affected flight is currently scheduled for Jan. 13.

“Should the full fire service capabilities not be restored by then, Cayman Airways will make further adjustments to next weekend’s flight schedule,” Mr. Whorms said.

The fire truck flipped over during what officials described as a “mandatory speed test” Thursday morning. The roof of the vehicle crumpled and the side was sheared off by the impact.

Two firefighters who sustained injuries in the accident were flown to Grand Cayman by helicopter.

One of the officers was treated at the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town and discharged Friday. The second officer was still in hospital on Friday and his condition was described as stable.

A police accident investigator was flown from Grand Cayman to investigate the incident Thursday, while an “independent analyst” will also investigate the crash, according to a government spokeswoman. The fire truck’s manufacturer is also sending an expert to assess the vehicle, she said.

Speed tests are carried out monthly on fire trucks that provide emergency support to the airport in accordance with Rescue and Fire Fighting Service regulations, according to a government statement. The tests are designed to ensure the fire service can meet required response times in case of an emergency.

The statement noted, “The cause of the crash has yet to be determined pending the completion of the ongoing investigations.”

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