A rusted bolt was to blame for the mechanical failure that caused a fire truck to flip over on the runway at Cayman Brac, an accident reconstructionist has concluded.
The fire truck was traveling at just over 27 miles per hour when it rolled over during mandatory speed testing at the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport in January, according to a report by Collin Redden, a crash analyst hired to investigate the accident.
His report highlights multiple areas of rust on the truck, which was damaged beyond repair in the accident, that he suggests should have been spotted during maintenance.
He indicates that the principal cause of the accident was that an axle stop, designed to stabilize the vehicle as it leans into a turn, failed because one of the bolts had sheared off due to rust.
The vehicle entered the turn traveling only on its left wheels and rolled over, injuring two firefighters on board. A separate report by truck manufacturer Oshkosh indicates the truck was 80 percent damaged in the accident.
It was written off and replaced with a new Panther 6×6 aerodrome fire truck, worth $599,328, handed over at a ceremony on the Brac last week.
In his report on the accident, Mr. Redden indicates the rust should have been spotted during routine maintenance. He also indicates signs of rust at similar points on the second aerodrome fire truck stationed at the Brac and recommended that it be dealt with urgently.
He said the vehicle leaned so far over on its left side that the truck’s locker box scraped the runway before it flipped over.
He added that the “left rear [axle] stop started to fail due to the two lower bolts … one [of which] sheared due to the other bolt being rusted away.”
He said rust was identified on several key areas of the chassis during his inspection.
“This should have been noticed if the undercarriage was inspected correctly, if proper preventive maintenance is being carried out, especially since the fire station is located close to the sea where the salt air would significantly increase rust and corrosion if the proper preventive maintenance is not carried out.”
He indicates there is no “robust preventative maintenance program” as recommended by the appliance manufacturer and regulatory bodies.
Mr. Redden also recommended more formal training for fire truck drivers on the Brac.
He wrote, “The current system of driver training being used is that the experienced operators are showing the younger operators how to drive and respond to emergencies.
“There should be training and certification for the operators in proper use and response of the appliances such as set out in National Fire Protection Association 1002 ‘Fire Apparatus Driver/Operator Professional Qualifications’ or guidelines from other regulatory or advisory bodies in this industry.”
The reports were published on the government’s websites this week following a hand-over ceremony for the new aerodrome-certified truck on the Brac.
The truck, made by American manufacturer Rosenbauer Minnesota LLC, will be housed at the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport.
Minister for District Administration Moses Kirkconnell made opening remarks at the ceremony welcoming the new piece of equipment, before taking a ride on the new truck.
“This new fire engine is another investment into public safety for the people of this island and the people who visit this island,” he said. “This government continues to invest and ensure the best possible air transport safety and the highest standards of overall operational safety for the Cayman Brac Airport.”
“We are extremely grateful to have this fire engine now a part of our aerodrome fleet thanks to the Ministry of Home Affairs,” Chief Fire Officer David Hails said. “It’s a fire truck like these islands have never seen. This new vehicle is designed with state-of-the-art equipment which can efficiently extinguish any aircraft fire, and will improve operation capabilities for the Cayman Brac Airport.”
Michael Nixon, acting chief officer of the Ministry of Home Affairs, also attended the handover of the new fire engine to the fire officers of Cayman Brac.
“The men and women of the Cayman Islands Fire Service put their lives on the line every day, and we are happy to ensure they have the lifesaving equipment they need to do their job,” he said.
All officers who will work with the new truck have received operation and maintenance training. The vehicle will have full LED lighting, a twin-agent fire extinguishing system, a driver’s cab with a panoramic view and the first on-board thermal imaging camera in the Cayman Islands.