Fire Chief Charles Hood of the San Antonio Fire Department suspended three firefighters for traveling at an unsafe speed and not buckling up while racing to a fire on the Northwest Side last year. Firefighter Robert Arranaga, 30, was trapped and hospitalized with a broken neck and remains on medical leave. The crash destroyed Ladder 35 priced at $600,000.
According to internal documents obtained by the San Antonio Express-News, Firefighter Brandon Wheeler, 29, was driving when the truck left the Culebra Road station to respond to a call for a structure fire on Nov. 14. The truck reached a speed of 33 mph in about 30 seconds. At that speed, the driver made an attempt to turn onto Loop 410 and the truck rolled onto its side.
Firefighter Robert Arranaga, 30, was trapped. Wheeler, 29, Capt. Larry Schultz, 59, and firefighter Brad Phipps, 31, were uninjured. Police said speed caused the crash.
Schultz received the harshest punishment: a 60-day suspension because he is ultimately responsible for the truck and the crew. Wheeler was suspended for 45 days and Phipps for five days. Arranaga, a one-year veteran whose first day at the station was the day of the crash, wasn’t suspended — he was following his leaders’ example, Hood said, and his injuries were punishment enough.
All 1600 personnel were ordered to view the crashed truck which will ultimately be placed on view at the San Antonio Fire Academy.
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