June 24

Faulty part blamed for engine failure during Fremont fire, replacement effort underway



The reserve fire engine that malfunctioned and couldn’t pump water when it arrived at the deadly Fremont fire on June 12 had a faulty part. That part, a transmission pad, is now being replaced on 10 other engines as a precaution.

Officials say despite the engine’s failure and the short delay in getting water on the fire, it wouldn’t have made a difference in the blaze that claimed five lives.

UPDATE, 6/25: From the Seattle Fire Department:

After more than 39 hours of diagnostic and field testing, the consultant and emergency vehicle technicians were able to replicate the problem that occurred on June 12. They isolated the problem to a worn transmission control keypad. The keypad controls the vehicle’s transmission which engages the pump.

The consultant advised on recovery procedures if the pad does not engage on first attempt. The Fire Department has put together a set of written instructions for firefighters on how to “reboot” the system if necessary. The instructions will include the normal procedures for putting the engine in to pump and instructions for what to do if the engine will not go in to pump. They will be put in the cab of every engine in the department.

“Overall this particular device has performed very reliably over the years. But with this latest failure, we will redouble our efforts to maintain the reliability of our vehicles,” added Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean and Acting Director of Fleets and Facilities Fred Podesta.

All Seattle Fire Department vehicles receive a daily, weekly and monthly operator check and are on a six month preventative maintenance schedule.

The consultant is Mike Thorn of Oregon Apparatus Repair, Inc. He will provide a written report on his findings next week.


Fremont fire, Seattle Fire Department

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