Nov. 28–The city of South Portland is still working to determine the cost of the damage to a new, $1.1 million fire truck that struck power lines and caught fire during a training mishap in October.
“Despite rumors to the contrary, there has been no determination made by any official from the city …. or other entity that the vehicle is a total loss,” the city said in a statement released Wednesday by city Manager Scott Morelli.
The Pierce-brand aerial ladder truck, which was placed into service only a couple of days before the Oct. 30 accident, was damaged when firefighters from the Cash Corner Station were testing the aerial and struck a power line on Skillin Street, sending an electrical current through the truck that damaged its complex electronics and sparked a fire on the front right tire.
No one was injured and the tire fire was extinguished, but the truck has been placed out of service since the incident. The updated statement on Wednesday also outlined the process ahead for the city, which is insured by the Maine Municipal Association.
An insurance adjuster is still working with an engineer from the truck manufacturer to determine the extent of the damage, what repairs are needed, and whether the damage will be covered by the city’s insurance policy.
The policy has a $1,000 deductible and “could cover the cost of needed repairs or a complete replacement truck, up to a cost of $1,064,000,” the city said in the statement.
The statement did not, however, spell out conditions under which the city would be held liable for some or all of the cost of fixing or replacing the vehicle.
Results of the insurance assessment could come within the next week, but the city placed no firm deadline on making a decision on the truck’s future.
In addition to the insurance process, an internal investigation has also been underway by the city’s safety officer to determine what went wrong and how the city may improve on its processes in the future to prevent another similar incident. He also noted the investigation could lead to disciplinary action, but that none has been taken yet.
A redacted version of the investigative report will be released to the public once it is complete. By law, names of city employees who may be sanctioned or disciplined are not public until a final written decision regarding discipline has been rendered.
“The city is still reviewing the facts around this incident to determine what additional steps need to be taken going forward,” the city said. “This may include changes to our training protocols, safety policies, and discipline for employees involved, or any other actions deemed appropriate.”
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