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UPDATED: Radio traffic added from runaway fire engine with children on board at birthday party. Firefighter hurt in Anne Arundel County, MD incident.

A fire engine at a birthday party on Saturday in Anne Arundel County, Maryland started rolling away with eight children on board.

MD AA Lake Shore
Picture by Matt Stevens via The Capital.

Witnesses tell WMAR-TV that a firefighter jumped into the driver’s seat and was able to steer the rig into a tree. That firefighter was hurt, but the children were not injured.

Here is more from an article by The Capital’s Shantee Woodards:

The Lake Shore Volunteer Fire Company had Engine 201 parked on Edgewater Road in Pasadena for a community event. Several children were on the fire engine throughout the day. At one point, the emergency brake was released and the fire engine rolled down the hill, said Battalion Chief Steve Thompson. One firefighter was injured after somehow trying to stop the engine.

“There were several children on the fire engine,” Thompson said. “They were looking at it and crawling inside.”

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  • dustymedic

    Guess they never heard of wheel chocks..

  • Devil’s Advocate

    I heard the engine was full of wheel chocks.

  • http://happymedic.com Justin Schorr

    Why on earth was this at a birthday party? I hope who ever requested the engine attend the party pays to repair it. This is exactly why emergency services are not for children to climb in and around outside of controlled conditions at the firehouse, if even that.

    Imagine if one of the children had been hurt, or worse…

    Stop this practice, all of us! $600,000 fire apparatus ARE NOT children’s play sets.

  • Me

    Really, I have had hundreds of kids playing around my rigs. As long as you are their while they are in the drivers seat they can’t cause much trouble. You should be there anyway because chidren aren’t always respectful f others things. But as to how to avoid this type of thing from happening, wheel chocks! My dept drivers are guilty of it too, but wheel chocks are there to prevent this from taking place.

  • flash

    Justin, I understand your point but there are tons of reasons why it is also a good idea to continue the practice, (following safety procedures, of course, including wheel chocks). Fire fighters are heroes to kids, positive role models to look up to. Also, children need to understand that firefighters are not people to be afraid of and the best way to teach them that is to let them spend time together. Children learn more when they are involved, hands on and exploring. This includes climbing on things. I don’t believe that in the firehouse is the only place this can take place. It is great PR for departments to be invovled out and about in the community. Those people pay taxes and taxes support those fire departments.

  • Anonymous NOVA Engine Driver

    First and foremost, let’s all be thankful that all of the children are ok, and the firefighter only had minor injuries. This story could have ended much worse. It’s easy to point blame at the driver for not putting down the wheel chocks, but as an Engine driver, I myself often overlook that. I guess I’ve had a run of good luck. Kids exposure to the firefighters and our involvement with the community is a valuable part of what we do behind the scenes. I believe we need to maintain a vigilant presence at schools, community centers, and churches.

    I do however take a lot of issue to taking the apparatus to Birthday parties. It is not utilized in the fire prevention aspect as it would be in the educational setting. The children are amped up on sugar and usually pushing and shoving each other to get inside and jump around. Meanwhile the parents (many with alcohol on board) are usually taking advantage of this short downtime to mingle while the civil servants have 30 minutes to babysit the neighborhood. That’s a crew of 4 (or sometimes less) to control upwards of 20 or more wild children who want to touch, climb, and open everything. It’s not so easy, especially when you also have to monitor dispatch. This problem is not going away, because now, who’s going to hire a clown, pony, dunk tank, or moon bounce when the local firefighters are just a phone call away (and free)? Departments need to set policy and stand by it, or else we’ll be back to back with birthday parties all year round and soon enough a child will get hurt and guess who sues. To all the parents, quit being cheap and hire a CLOWN or a MOONBOUNCE!

  • Anonymous NOVA Engine Driver

    In response to FLASH… I can understand how we need to be role models and we’re “heroes to the community” and all that Jazz. The same can be said for the POLICE. Let’s have them attend this nonsense just as we do and play with their guns, tasers, and pepper spray.

  • Retired Captain NJ

    Our Department Policy is that the rig is manned by at least two fire fighters, expecially when going through the cab. No children should be allowed on an unattended piece of apparatus. Period. We have done 100′s of programs and some birthday parties for over 30 years and have never had even a minor incident. Safety rules need to be implemented and observed. Children always press buttone, flip switches, want to blow the siren and sound the airhorns. They are fascinated with all of the gauges and switches. This exercise is an invaluable piece of positive public relations. I am sure that this incident was preventable. Thankfully, no children were injured and I hope that the firefighter is okay. Side note – Birthday Parties have been discontinued due to the number of requests.

  • the Deputy

    never leave a child alone while they are in the driver seat POINT BLANK!!!

  • cozmosis

    I like to tell my guys that nobody brings their kids to Public Works to see the garbage trucks. They certainly don’t call and want them to make appearances at birthday parties! It’s an honor for our profession to be held in such esteem that people want us as part of their lives. That’s something we shouldn’t turn out backs on.

    Like so many events in the modern fire service, when something bad happens the initial reaction is — “don’t ever do that again!” Someone falls through a roof and someone yells — “don’t ever get on a roof again!” Someone is injured performing a search in a vacant — “don’t search vacant buildings ever again!” So, of course, I expect some people who read this story to say “never let children touch fire trucks again!”

    Like everything else, the answer is not to stop the activity all together — but to do it safely. This engine should have been chocked. That one action would have prevented this whole story. I say let the kids play in fire engines (with FD supervision!) but do it safely.

  • yes

    I know alot of companies that have children on their apparatus and in their station. We read about them everyday here on STATTER911.COM

  • Max

    I also pay taxes for the military. So can I go climb around a tank?

  • Fireboots

    Sure hope the FAO pays more attention to having the booster tank full of water or fuel in the truck than he or she does putting down their wheel chocks. Mistakes happen I know but its often the little things that will get you and lead to folks getting hurt or worse. Thank the Lord none of the kids were standing in front of the truck. In a Dept where I used to work all our trucks had a strip of tape on the dash right in front of the driver with one word on it. THINK!

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  • play4keeps

    This is the first incident of this kind(that we know of) after millions of American children climbed in and out of apparatus. Public service events where apparatus have been made open for children have been going on since the beginning a motorized apparatus. The Ret NJ Guy and Cozmosishit it on the head. In Washington, DC we have two guys watching at all times and we NEVER put a kid in the driver’s seat unless we are standing next to him on the step. Safety is one thing but this is just good common sense!

  • Mack C-85

    Justin, et.al: Why do we do these kind of public affairs events? Because “Paid for by the Community We Serve” is not only a slogan painted on the lower rear compartment doors of every piece (Two Engines, Engine-Tanker, Tower, and Heavy Rescue)in my last department, it is a statement of thanks for the donations, carnival patronage, and attendance of any other of many fund raising events that paid for that piece of equipment. The tax monies recieved from the county don’t cover the operating expenses, more of less, pay for capital expenses.

    I agree supervision and wheel chocks are a must, but if showing a couple of kids through the engine gets a check written down the road to pay help for it, so be it.

  • Earleigh_Heights_Iceman

    Does anyone know if it was a paid crew or a volley crew? I am betting a paid crew off chatting it up with the local Pasadena cougars!

  • John S-B

    We as firefighters are constantly learning from the mistakes of of others. This one is just going to cost some cash to repair the truck, some scrapes, and a some deeply bruised ego’s. But let’s learn from this and not throw the baby out with the bathwater. They lucked out and had no serious losses, and we now have a wake up call to develop SOP’s when doing public service and educational programs. We know what the cause was, let’s fix it so it doesn’t happen again.

  • Max

    Earleigh_Heights_Iceman: It was the volunteers, with their chief. So you lost your bet.

  • fireman 16

    dude seriously why werent the kids supervised?