Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company officials are reminding Newarkers to be cautious around fire engines after a motorist ran over a hose, causing $1,400 in damage.
“Never drive over a fire hose at a fire scene,” an Aetna spokesperson wrote in a public service announcement posted online. “It places our firefighters in danger, will damage your vehicle, and is illegal.”
The incident happened around 8 p.m. Wednesday as Aetna was responding to a gas leak at Ivy Hall Apartments.
“One of the tasks crucial to the successful outcome of a fire incident is to establish a continuous water supply,” the spokesperson explained. “Our fire engines carry 750 gallons of water which can last less than five minutes during a firefight. This means that our crews must deploy large-diameter supply hose from a fire hydrant to the fire engine in order to ensure that we have enough water. Gas leaks have the explosive potential to cause even greater damage than a structure fire and, as a result, we take the same precaution of establishing a water supply.”
As the firefighters were working, a motorist tried to pass a fire engine that was blocking a road near the apartment complex. In doing so, he ran over a hose and its couplings, damaging his vehicle and destroying two sections of hose.
“Fortunately, the gas leak was minor and was quickly controlled, but had it been worse, our crews would have been in danger without a water supply,” the Aetna spokesperson wrote.
The driver, a 62-year-old Newark man, was cited under a section of city code that governs behavior around fire engines, according to Lt. Andrew Rubin, a spokesman for the Newark Police Department.
The law prohibits motorists from driving over a hose unless directed to by firefighters. It also prohibits motorists from following or parking within 500 feet of a fire engine if the engine is responding to an emergency. Violators face a fine of $25 to $100.