Greenwich FD Loses Fire Engine During Ice Rescue

The oil pan of the fire truck was ripped apart when it bottomed out on an unmarked speed bump, according to Greenwich Assistant Fire Chief Robert Kick.

A puddle of oil from Greenwich Fire Department Engine 5 on Willowmere Circle Jan. 23, 2014. Photo credit: Barbara Heins.
A puddle of oil from Greenwich Fire Department Engine 5 on Willowmere Circle Jan. 23, 2014. Photo credit: Barbara Heins.

While there was a happy ending with the rescue of two boys who fell through the ice of a Riverside pond, the Greenwich Fire Department is dealing with the after-effects of the incident.

The department has lost a fire engine that was damaged as crews raced to the pond on Willowmere Circle about 1:15 p.m. Jan. 23. The call was for two boys who ventured out onto the ice-covered pond and had fallen through thin ice, into the frigid brackish water.

The crew of Engine 5, based out of the Sound Beach Volunteer Fire Department, raced to the scene, along with numerous other Greenwich Fire Department, police department and Greenwich Emergency Medical Service units.

Unbeknownst to the engine crew there was a significant speed bump on Willowmere, a few yards from the pond. 

"They never saw it. They were going to a significant call and there was a significant speed bump. There were no signs, no markings, it was covered with snow," said Assistant Greenwich Fire Chief Robert Kick.

When the engine hit the speed bump, the crew "didn't realize they bottomed out," Kick said. The impact "tore off the drain bolt of the oil pan and a chunk of the Fiberglas oil pan," Kick said.

As the crew exited the truck on the south side of the pond, a warning light activated. "They thought maybe they blew a belt but they were prepping for the rescue.," Kick explained. As the crew prepared equipment for the rescue, the truck shut off, Kick said.

Only after the unidentified boys were on the way to Stamford Hospital for treatment, did the crew realize what happened. There was a trail of oil and puddles soiling the narrow snow-covered lane that borders the Riverside waterfront.

A heavy-duty wrecker was brought in to haul out the disabled engine the town purchased in 2000, according to Kick. Next week, the truck will be towed up to Atlantic Detroit, a truck repair company in upstate Middletown, for diagnosis of engine damage and repair, Kick said.

The replacement cost with a new truck is about $640,000, Kick said.

"I'd rather lose an engine when there are lives at stake," Kick said. "There were a lot of factors going on and he (the driver) shouldn't beat himself up for it."

Greenwich Police spokesman, Lt. Kraig Gray, said, there aren't any grounds for criminal charges against the boys. "There was a direct, serious impact of their behavior," Gray said. "That truck is out of service for something that didn't have to happen. They are safe — that's what we want, but there is no need to engage in risky behavior."

Willowmere Circle resident Paul Palmer said he called out to the boys to stay off the ice but they replied, "mind your own business." Palmer said he watched the boys and then called 911.

Until Engine 5 is repaired, crews at the Sound Beach station are using a spare engine, No. 51, Kick said.

Ed Krumeich January 26, 2014 at 12:58 PM
Unmarked speed bumps can be a menace. Merely, painting the bumps is not sufficient because in certain conditions the painting is obscured. Signage should warn of the presence of speed bumps and indicate where each bump is located. That will serve the basic purpose of speed bumps, to slow down traffic, while protecting the public from unexpected surprises. The boys should not be blamed for the fire engine damage; the neighborhood association should install appropriate signage. I agree that Mr. Palmer deserves praise for his warning and for calling 911 so promptly.
Linda Turturino January 26, 2014 at 01:32 PM
At the least the boys should apologize to Mr. Palmer heard they were not so nice when told to get off the ice - signs should be up warning there is a bump coming
Cath January 26, 2014 at 08:28 PM
They were not 15 but 8 and 9 years old. Why weren't they being supervised? One day when they are old and see kids being kids and doing something stupid, I hope they remember how a sweet old man had grace and called the police. I get it that they were rude but they are kids and we all need to have more grace for people like this old man does.
SLGREEN January 27, 2014 at 06:43 AM
A sign warning for the speed bump would have prevented the damage however the parents of the boys should be held responsible for the damage. Those boys should not have been left unsupervised at such a young age, especially considering that they sound like kids who don't have good judgement or respect authority. Many parents are blind to this and perhaps holding them responsible will teach them a lesson and set an example for other parents in the future. You are responsible for your children and their actions and it's your job to teach them and keep them safe! These parents did neither in this case. The children and their parents are very lucky. Mr. Palmer deserves an apology and a huge thank you!
Taxpayer January 29, 2014 at 05:15 PM
Speed bump, all the locals know about them. Oh that is right, we don't hire anyone from town anymore.


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