Greenbelt fire trucks out of service after two crashes

The truck involved in the Beltway crash suffered $30,000 worth of damage. Photo: Jonathan D. Howard/PGFD

The Greenbelt Volunteer Fire Department is being forced to use borrowed trucks and equipment for the foreseeable future after both were involved in crashes in over the past week.

Prince George's County Fire spokesman Mark Brady said in a blog post Sunday that despite the driver of the fire trucks not being at fault in any of the crashes, the trucks sustained tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage and have been placed out of service for an extended period of time.

The most recent incident happened early Saturday morning while a Greenbelt-based engine was providing barrier protection while other units responded to a crash on the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway near the Annapolis Road exit. Fire trucks often offer this kind of protection by acting as a "shield" to oncoming traffic, Brady said, with lights and road flares to deter drivers around the accident scene.

However, at about 2:45 a.m. Saturday, the driver of a Lexus slammed into back side of the Greenbelt truck providing protection. No one was seriously injured in the crash, but it did more than $30,000 worth of damage to the fire engine, Brady says. Shortly thereafter, another car crashed into the original civilian vehicle that collided with the fire truck.

That driver fled the scene, but was caught a short time later. Both drivers were tested for impairment and charged with traffic violations.

The Capital Beltway crash was the second of its kind in the span of a week. On the Saturday before this weekend's crash, Greenbelt's other engine crashed and sustained significant damage after another driver failed to yield the right-of-way. Two firefighters were injured in that crash.

There is no concrete date when Greenbelt's engines will be back in service.