Dublin-Based Sutphen Grounds Ladder Trucks Over Safety Concerns

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They're fire trucks that are supposed to reach tough spots.  But now they've been pulled out of service after firefighters were injured.

The Upper Arlington Fire Department has a truck with a ladder that's supposed climb into the sky. But for now, the ladder will be grounded.

“We're not going to send it up into the air at all," says Firefighter Dan Kochensparger.  He says the decision to suspend ladder operations came last night.

It comes after an accident in Georgia where three firefighters were hurt in the same kind of ladder truck. The ladder unexpectedly came crashing down on itself.

By phone, the Georgia Fire Chief Dave Kimbrell explained to 10TV how it happened.  "They suddenly dropped. We aren't sure about the exact distance - anywhere from 20-40 feet - until it reached solid in the ladder,” Kimbrell explains.

Firefighters had to use a second truck to pull the injured firefighters to safety.

The company out of Dublin called Sutphen produced the trucks. It's not Sutphen's first problem. 10TV has learned of a similar incident reported in Pennsylvania several weeks ago. It's not clear whether the accidents are related.

Sutphen declined an on camera interview, but did put an announcement on its website asking fire departments to suspend ladder operations on certain trucks.

The suspension means a loss of capability for firefighters like Kochensparger.

In Upper Arlington, the ladder truck will still go out on runs to pump water, but won't be able to reach high rise buildings or shoot downward on house fires. 

Kochensparger doesn't know whether the restriction is long term.  His biggest concern is whether the incident is isolated or something that will impact other Sutphen trucks.

Even though some trucks are partially out of commission, there is a back up plan in place.  If there is a high rise fire, trucks from other fire departments have agreed to come and help out.

10TV also found a federal report that shows a recall on certain Sutphen ladder trucks last year due to a defect on a ladder truck in Arizona.