On October 4, 2010, a Stamford Fire Department fire engine was severely damaged after being rear-ended at high speed by a tractor-trailer while firefighters were battling a vehicle fire on Interstate 95 near exit 8 southbound. The collision, which occurred at 2:13 a.m., left the fire engine in a state of serious disrepair and required a comprehensive assessment from factory experts.

Then Fire Chief Robert McGrath expressed his concerns about the extent of the damage, stating, “It’s a relatively new fire truck, and it sustained a lot of damage. It is a very valuable piece of equipment, and we’re waiting for the factory people to come take it apart to give us a full estimate on it.”

The accident unfolded as firefighters from the downtown and Glenbrook fire stations were in the process of loading a 1998 BMW 740-I onto a flatbed after successfully extinguishing a vehicle fire. The collision involved a 2005 HME Ahrens-Fox pumper truck, which was stationary in the right and center lanes. Thankfully, no firefighters sustained injuries; however, CT State Trooper Thomas Mitri suffered leg lacerations from debris and was transported to Stamford Hospital for treatment.

The force of the impact led to the scattering of equipment from the fire truck onto the highway, adding to the chaos of the scene. The driver of the tractor-trailer, identified as Marcus Sharp, 47, of Arlington, Tenn., was not harmed in the collision. Sharp was subsequently arrested by state police and charged with reckless driving, according to State Police Sgt. Shawn Corey.

The southbound lanes of Interstate 95 were closed for approximately an hour as authorities worked to clear the wreckage and debris from the collision site. Fire Chief McGrath emphasized that the firefighting team had adhered to proper procedures when responding to incidents on the busy thoroughfare. “It’s a blessing that nobody was seriously injured. The truck was basically ripped open, and this could have been a lot worse,” McGrath remarked.

The incident sheds light on the dangers emergency responders face when attending to emergencies on highways. Despite the meticulous placement of another fire truck north of the fire scene, as well as the use of flares and strobe lights to warn oncoming motorists, accidents can still occur, underscoring the need for heightened caution.

The Stamford Fire & Rescue Department’s 2005-model fire truck, a 32-foot-long, 38,000-pound apparatus with an estimated cost of $360,000, is now out of commission due to the collision. While the engine was out being repaired, a fire truck acquired in 2002 was put in service in its place until the damaged truck is either repaired. At the time, Fire Chief McGrath acknowledged, “It will be a while before the truck is back in service if it is repairable.”

It is noted that Interstate 95 remains a treacherous route, and the incident serves as a reminder of the potential hazards emergency personnel and commuters alike face on this highly traveled roadway.

Bernard Boston, the owner of Bernard Boston Trucking of Arlington, Tenn., offered limited comment on the accident.  They revealed that the tractor-trailer was carrying empty containers destined for Memphis but declined to provide further insight into the circumstances surrounding the collision.