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“I have been prosecuting serious injury and wrongful death cases against trucking companies, auto makers and tire manufacturers for more than 30 years. Our firm maintains this blog to share information and insight on transportation safety issues that continue to arise on our nation’s highways and roads.”

Accident involving tire blowout seriously injures volunteer firefighter Anthony Schaffer

ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. Volunteer firefighter Anthony Schaffer suffered serious injuries Dec. 4 in a fire truck crash on Stella Road in Hubert.

Schaffer was traveling in a fire truck driven by the Hubert Volunteer Fire Department chief when a front steer tire on the truck exploded while the vehicle was moving at 40 mph, according to a local news report. The tire explosion caused the chief to lose control of the vehicle, which then ran off the roadway and hit a driveway pipe before coming to rest.

Officials with the department said Schaffer was airlifted from the scene of the accident with a broken and dislocated hip and a broken pelvis.

As of Dec. 7, Schaffer remained hospitalized but was expected to make a full recovery.

The tires on the vehicle were made by Continental. In a statement, the department stressed that the tires on the vehicle were in good condition.

“Our trucks are inspected weekly and tires are replaced as needed without delay. We don't take chances with bad tires,” he wrote.

Commentary on the Anthony Schaffer Accident off Stella Road in Hubert, North Carolina

Despite spending the last thirty years studying the various causes of tire blowouts, I am still amazed at the frequency and similarity between these tragic events. In this instance, the Hubert Volunteer Fire Department was traveling at a normal rate of speed when the front tire suddenly and unexpectedly failed, causing the captain to lose control of the vehicle and crash the fire engine. This account is like countless accidents I have handled over my career.

We do not know what caused the tire blowout at this time. However, it is difficult not to draw general conclusions based on the circumstances surrounding the accident. First, a fire engine is required to comply with stringent maintenance standards suggesting the condition of the tire was in good working order at the time of failure. Second, the engine was being driven by the fire chief, suggesting the engine was being driven in an ordinary and responsible manner.

Considering these two points, it stands to reason the tire failure was caused by something outside the control of the fire department. If this is the case, it is vital for a detailed analysis of the tire and any remaining pieces be conducted to ensure accidents like this are prevented going forward. Despite the advances in technology, I personally see accidents come across my desk nearly every day that were caused by manufacturer flaw and defect. This is an issue that must be resolved.

I hope for a speedy recovery for Mr. Schaffer over the coming months and give my thanks for the service he provides his community.

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