June 20, 2018
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Sangerville fire chief avoids costly damage by crashing truck

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff

SANGERVILLE, Maine — A $3,000 price tag for repairs to a firetruck, wrecker service and insurance deductible could have been much heftier had the town’s fire chief not swerved the runaway emergency vehicle into a wall three weeks ago, officials said.

Fire Chief Chuck Bean was driving the town’s 1975 Chevrolet pumper truck up the slope on School Street when the accident happened.

Bean said Tuesday that he stopped the truck before trying to shift it in reverse to back it into the fire station. That’s when the master cylinder gave out, disabling the brakes. The truck, loaded with 750 gallons of water, started rolling down the hill and building momentum.

At this point, Bean said, the truck was heading toward the fire department building, another firetruck and several other vehicles in the parking lot.

“I just tried to avoid anything, that was all I could do,” Bean said. “I could have hit a few vehicles and a building we just put an addition onto.”

The truck came to rest after hitting a 3-foot “retaining wall” that divides the town office entrance from the fire department entrance, Bean said. The back of the truck was hanging over the wall, so a wrecker had to be called from Newport to pull the truck onto all four wheels. That cost about $800, according to Bean.

The impact ripped off the truck’s exhaust pipe and dented the body. That plus the other mechanical repairs totaled a little more than $2,000, according to Bean.

“It was an unfortunate, weird accident,” said town selectman Brent Randall. “Fortunately, Chief Bean turned the truck away from the building, avoiding a lot of major damage.”

Selectmen held a special meeting Tuesday to inspect the truck, accident scene and talk to Bean about the crash. They weren’t aware of the accident until they saw the damage appraisal this week.

“We got word of it a little later than we should have,” Randall said.

After looking at the truck, Randall said, “the damage is minimal. Unless they pointed it out to you, you wouldn’t even notice it.”

The truck’s master cylinder and exhaust pipe have been replaced; now “it just needs a little body work,” Randall said.

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