I just seen this article and thought it would make a great topic for discussion. I know it will probably be one sided being the site we are on.
I am still learning the fire procedures and environment as a whole; so any information about departments around the country would be helpful. This is not intended to be a cop bashing posts, or start an argument. I would like to know who be in charge at your scene.
Thank you in advance for your information.
What was his plan if he had kept them from flipping it? Let it sit in the road on it's top till it rusted away.
Exactly. It isn't like an MVA is so rare, despite who flips the vehicle, the vehicle IS going to be removed. I don't agree with letting some Joe Blow do it, but it was the LEOs call.
"[Sheriff]Allison said Wednesday he couldn’t see any more danger from allowing the individuals to remove the vehicle than that of a wrecker service, particularly since there was already fire equipment on the scene, referring to the Poplarville department presence."
Funny though that nothing is being said about the skills and abilities of the *friends* that wanted to flip and tow the vehicle. Where they experienced in flipping a vehicle back onto its wheels? Did they have the necessary equipment to perform such a flip? Who exactly is responsible when the rope/chain/cable snaps and injures or kills a FF, LEO, friend or innocent bystander? Who is responsible for any collateral damage in the flipping of the car (*friend* backs into telephone pole, cop car, engine, passerby)? If the driver of the car that *flipped* (apparently of its own accord) didn't have any insurance (my insurance covers towing) what would make you think the *friends* had any insurance (automobile, workman's comp, liability)?
Really it seems a no brainer (possibly even more so in MS) but letting unlicensed, untrained, unknown *friends* flip and tow a car after an MVA just seems risky and potentially dangerous across the board. Chief states there was the smell of gasoline, was the battery disconnected?
Who would be pointing at whom should an injury or death occur in the process of righting the car? I bet the sheriff's department would have a sudden change of heart as to who had overall responsibility.
First off you do realize that a wrecker company is going to use a winch to flip the car right? Secondly you do realize that the FD's role is to monitor the environment and have a line ready right? The chief's concerns here really are not valid, he was worried because of the fluid and debris and thought a wayward spark may cause a fire. So what? That is why the FD's role is to stand by and be ready in case it does ignite, regardless of the chief's concerns, the vehicle will have to be flipped. How it gets flipped and who does it is a LE aspect and the chief has no reason to prevent the officer from doing his job.
Bottom line is the chief was getting involved in something that he no longer had control over. His concerns should have been addressed to the sheriff etc and to see that such a policy is that a wrecker service gets involved as opposed to anyone with a winch, but that is a discussion that should take place after the fact.
The Emergency Powers Acts in several states give all scene authority to the fire chief or his designee unless the scene is a crime scene or terrorism. South Carolina and Tennessee are two such states.
When I worked in Tennessee, we used to have occasional conflict with a few cops who did not understand that law. I used to carry copies of the law with the pertinent sections highlighted in the clipboard on my rig. When we had the "move that vehicle right now" order from the trooper, I'd simply ask him "You're here to enforce the law, right?' The answer was always a variation of "Of COURSE I'm here to enforce the law." I'd reach into the clipboard, pull out the copy of the Emergency Powers Act, give it to the officer, and as pleasantly as possible say "GREAT. Now please enforce this law that says I'm in charge of this scene."
That generally changed the tone from "Move that engine right now" to, "Hey, how soon can we get the highway open again?"
Definately agree that it was a bad call in allowing some "bystander" to flip the vehicle. If the driver says they didn't have wrecker insurance, my bet is that didn't have any insurance, well, tough break then, we wait for a wrecker.
However, having worked for a towing company before and having handled such situations, a winch is going to be used to get the vehicle out. I agree with the liability, experience, etc that such a wrecker company would have, but the potential for a fire exists with the wrecker company as it would the bystander. So I would say this brings up some more valid points about why a wrecker service should be called, but in the end the sheriff made the decision and the fire chief's concern would have been there had it been a wrecker or the bystander removing the vehicle.
What the article doesn't mention is that the fire chief's actions were to await a wrecker service. Instead it states he was concerned that a stray spark may start a fire. That risk remains the same even with a wrecker service, so whereas the point about having a company with liabity insurance, experience and so forth would be more pertinent, that wasn't the mentioned case. Realistically that is why the FD is there, if the vehicle did start on fire, you put it out.
Here in Indianapolis in fact through out most of the state. Each city, town etc. has a wrecker service on a contract to respond to accidents. Indianapolis has multiples to pick from. 4 are at any one time are on a rotation. Each service covers a certain area of the city. North, south, east & west. The Police call the wrecker your vehicle gets towed. The wrecker is paid by the city. The owner is responcible for the storage fees. If the owner is able to pay they may tell the wrecker where they want it towed.
No worries about Joe Bob Jimmy Lee Possumfuss Jr. wanting to show off his new wench system to his date. YeeeHAh!
The wrecker is paid by the city.
Are you sure about that? While true, most cities, towns, etc have contracts, such contracts are there for a contact company and to meet certain requirements, such as time response etc. However, the money from such contracts typically come from the increased call volume for jobs, because now the municipality is calling for a wrecker service as opposed to some individual flipping through the yellow pages.
I did work for a towing company for awhile that did have the city contract. We had to meet a 15 minute response for an accident in the city etc. The vehicle was typically towed to a body shop or dealer etc and the shop was billed for the cost of the tow (basically the insurance). In some cases the vehicle was towed to our lot and the owner had to pay for the tow and storage to get the vehicle, otherwise the company would be able to get the car. Then there were many cars that got towed to the local scrapyard after titles cleared etc and money was obtained that way too.
Basically there are more ways to make money with a municipal contract, but I would doubt that the municipality is paying for wrecker. I would think that the taxpayers may have something to say about that.