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Cayman Islands Government

CIFS Fire Truck Accident

Two CIFS officers were involved in an accident during a mandatory performance test.

LATEST UPDATE: Thursday, 12 January 2017

Both Cayman Brac fire officers involved in the fire truck accident during a mandatory performance test on the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport runway (Thursday, 5 January 2017), have been released from the hospital at this time.

The driver of the fire truck Acting Leading Fire Officer, Mr. Jason McCoy and passenger Acting Divisional Officer, Mr. Garfield Ritch, were both transported by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s helicopter to Grand Cayman for further medical treatment at the Health Services Authority on Thursday afternoon.

A contingency plan has also been put into place that will support the resumption of jet services in Cayman Brac as soon as possible.

“After working diligently with other Cayman Islands Fire Service’s senior management and with the Cayman Islands Airport Authority we have decided that, whilst the backup fire truck at Cayman Brac will provide adequate fire cover for Category 6 jet movements, we will ship a larger fire truck from Little Cayman to Cayman Brac as the aircraft there carry significantly more passengers,” Chief Fire Officer David Hails explained. “However, this plan will not affect normal operations at the Little Cayman Airport, as we plan to ship a smaller fire truck that will provide adequate fire cover, back from Cayman Brac to Little Cayman.”

According to air safety regulations, at least two fire trucks are required to be on standby for Category 6 aircraft movements before a jet can land on the runway.

“The truck traveling from Little Cayman undergoes regular performance testing just like all other trucks which will ensure it’s ready to serve once it arrives,” he added.

Although, a date has not been set as for when this inter-island fire truck exchange will occur, as rough seas have created a bit of a challenge.

Plans are also underway to identify the best options for replacement of the truck involved in the incident. Contact has been made with a number of overseas vendors to determine how quickly a new truck can be procured.

The investigation into what caused the crash is ongoing and still being inspected by an independent accident analyst.

“We also have the manufacturer of the Osh Kosh T-3000 fire truck sending one of their experts here towards the end of the week to assess the vehicle,” Chief Hails explained.

Leaders with the Ministry of Home Affairs have facilitated the involvement of these experts from the outset to ensure that the incident is thoroughly evaluated. The facts reported on by the various experts will inform the way forward.

In the interest of staff wellness, a critical incident counsellor will be travelling to Cayman Brac to speak with fire officers and offer counselling if needed.

Government Information Services will continue to bring you the latest on the investigation as it becomes available.

UPDATE: Friday, 6 January 2017

One of the Cayman Brac fire officers involved in yesterday’s (Thursday, 5 January 2017) fire truck accident on the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport runway remains in hospital in stable condition, while the other officer has been treated and released.

Both officers were transported by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s helicopter to Grand Cayman to the Health Service Authority (HSA) yesterday afternoon.

The fire truck involved in the crash was removed from the airport runway after the accident analyst completed his on-site assessment, enabling normal airport operations to resume for all smaller Cayman Airways Limited aircrafts yesterday evening.

Senior management with the Cayman Islands Fire Service (CIFS), Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) and other stake holders are in the process of identifying an interim strategy that will support the resumption of jet services at the earliest opportunity.

Full investigations are being conducted by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) as well as an independent accident analyst. In addition, the Fire Service is arranging for the manufacturer of the Osh Kosh T-3000 truck to send one of their experts to assess the vehicle, which was purchased directly from them in 2006.

Mandatory speed testing of the fire trucks that support airport operations is conducted monthly by the Fire Service in accordance with regulatory requirements that must be complied with by all Rescue and Fire Fighting Service (RFFS) providers.

Under the RFFS regulations, systems and procedures must be in place to ensure the best possible response time in the case of an emergency.

The operational objective of the RFFS procedure is to achieve a response time not exceeding two minutes to any point on the runway. “Response time” is defined as the time between when the call is initially received and the time when the first responding vehicles arrive.

Speeds between 65 to 69 miles per hour are attained during speed tests as well as in response to an actual aerodrome emergency. These speeds comply with those allowed under the RFFS regulations.

Fire personnel are required to be licensed to Group 4 level and must undergo specialist training to qualify to drive a fire truck. Driver skill and expertise is augmented by technology, including integrated on-board safety systems which alert the driver before excessive speeds are attained.

In the 12 years since the last airport based fire truck accident occurred on the runway at Owen Roberts International Airport in January 2005, an average of 144 performance tests for speed have been conducted at that location and a similar number have been executed in Cayman Brac without incident. In addition to the monthly performance checks, the vehicles also undergo daily inspections as part of shift handover.

As the cause of the crash has yet to be determined pending the completion of the ongoing investigations, Government Information Services will continue to provide more information as it becomes available.

UPDATE: Thursday, 5 January 2017

Both Cayman Brac fire officers involved in the fire truck accident on the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport runway this morning (Thursday, 5 January 2017) have been transported by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s helicopter to Grand Cayman, for further medical investigations at the Health Service Authority.

An accident reconstructionist is currently conducting an assessment of the accident scene on the runway.

As soon as the assessment is completed, officials will work to get the fire truck moved off of the runway so operations for small aircrafts can resume.

Cayman Airways Limited was notified of the current situation and is making arrangements to accommodate passengers who had plans to arrive on tomorrow’s jet in Cayman Brac.

The Ministry of Home Affairs would like to thank all private and public sector stakeholders for their expressions of concern for the fire personnel involved and for their support and assistance, without which this most unfortunate accident would have been much more difficult to deal with.

The goal remains restoration of normal airport operations at the earliest opportunity.

Government Information Services will release more information as it becomes available.

Thursday, 5 January 2017:

Today (Thursday, January 5, 2017) Cayman Brac Firefighters with the Cayman Islands Fire Service Aerodrome Unit were conducting a mandatory speed test on the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport runway when the fire truck they were driving turned over.

The two firefighters who were inside the fire truck have been transported to the local hospital for evaluation and treatment. The nature and extent of any injuries is unknown at this time.

The airport in Cayman Brac is currently closed as no planes are able to land on the runway.

The Cayman Islands Airport Authority (CIAA), the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS), The Cayman Islands Fire Service (CIFS), other aviation officials and Public Works Department personnel are onsite at this time assessing the situation.

The RCIPS is using its’ own helicopter to fly Acting Deputy Chief Fire Officer Witney Tatum and a qualified accident reconstructionist to the scene. The cause of the crash will be fully investigated.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has been engaged in ongoing communication with District Administration Officials in Cayman Brac, with a view to restoring operations at the airport as quickly as possible.

The Government Information Services will release more information as it becomes available.

For further information contact: Jamie Hicks