Phoenix fire fined $95K in firefighter Brad Harper's death - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

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Phoenix fire fined $95K in firefighter Brad Harper's death

Brad Harper (Source: Phoenix Fire Department) Brad Harper (Source: Phoenix Fire Department)
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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

The Phoenix Fire Department has been slapped with a $95,000 fine in the death of a Phoenix firefighter in May.

Three reports released Tuesday by the City of Phoenix and the Industrial Commission of Arizona detail the events of the May 18 accident that took the life of 23-year-old Brad Harper, who was killed while fighting a mulch fire near 39th Avenue and Miami Street.

[Click here to read accident review board's final report (PDF)]

[Click here to read executive review committee's report (PDF)]

(Click here to read the notification of penalty notice (PDF)]

The commission levied a $70,000 fine against the fire department, saying Harper "was killed when he was struck by and caught between two firefighting vehicles while one of the vehicles was backing up without the use of a spotter."

Harper was trapped between the engine and a door of his rescue ambulance. The report stated there was a lack of situational awareness.

"You still need backers," said Kevin Kalkbrenner, the chief of operations for Phoenix Fire, referring to spotters who watch for obstacles when backing up fire trucks.

"You still need situational awareness because the fire ground is a very fast-moving, chaotic place that we're trying to bring order to, and we have to operate in it until we restore the order," explained Kalkbrenner.

A review board also concluded Harper was likely focused on other tasks and didn't notice the approaching engine.

The commission hit the fire department with an additional $25,000 penalty, saying Harper was killed in the line of duty as a result of willful (regulatory) violation.

Officials agreed with a previous Phoenix police report, saying no criminal or civil charges would be filed.

The committee is recommending new safety training in awareness at emergency scenes and devices on fire equipment such as backup cameras or automatic brakes. It also suggested "donning protective clothing and equipment on the emergency scene."

The Phoenix Fire Department Accident Review Board said their investigation into the incident relied on information obtained from briefings with the Phoenix Police Department's Vehicular Crimes Unit, photographs of the scene, a review of audio recordings of police interviews with involved firefighters and witnesses as well as recordings of tactical radio traffic and a review of the fire department's standard operating procedures.   

Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski issued a statement on the final report:

"While we continue to feel the loss of Firefighter Brad Harper, our focus now is on ensuring that an accident like this does not happen again.

"As the chairman of the City Council Public Safety & Veterans Subcommittee, I can assure you that the safety of the public and our first responders continues to be the number one priority of the city's Fire Department - we will have zero tolerance for employees that do not follow safety protocol.

"Chief Khan and his team are using the findings from a thorough analysis of the incident to fortify the department's already solid safety procedures, including the addition of new technology, to offer an extra layer of protection for the women and men who risk their lives to save lives."

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