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Gainesville firetruck undergoing precautionary repairs
1106FIRETRUCK
This Gainesville Fire Department truck is undergoing repairs as a precaution against an accident similar to the July incident that injured three Hall County firefighters.

The Gainesville Fire Department truck used to rescue three Hall County firefighters injured in July after falling 44 feet in a collapsing ladder is now undergoing repairs as a precaution against the same kind of accident.

Operators of the city’s aerial platform ladder truck raised concerns that worn cables and pulleys could cause an accident similar to the one this past summer.

“Based on their concerns, and the recent accident with Hall County Fire Services, Tower 21 was removed from service and a reserve truck was used in its place,” Division Chief Keith Smith said Wednesday in a news release.

However, city fire officials determined the ladder truck was safe to operate in a limited capacity.

The truck, which is a different make than the one involved in the Hall County accident, remained in use in a support and backup role, though the aerial ladder device was kept out of service, according to fire officials.

Officials said they decided to replace the cables, pulleys and wear pads on the ladder following an annual inspection in September.

North America Fire Equipment Co. technicians are in Gainesville this week performing the repairs at a cost of $15,000.

During a training exercise in July, Hall County firefighters TJ Elliott, Stephen Jackson and Will Griffin suffered back and spinal injuries when the bucket they were in atop a firetruck ladder fell more than four stories.

“... The top three sections of the fully extended ladder collapsed onto the second section when, apparently, the cables supporting the extension of the ladder failed,” County Attorney Bill Blalock wrote in a Sept. 16 letter to

Sutphen, of Amlin, Ohio, the manufacturer of the truck.

Hall County has threatened legal action if Sutphen does not reimburse the full cost of the truck.

Hall County alleges Sutphen knowingly or negligently misled fire officials when negotiating the purchase of the truck.

Failures in the truck’s extension cables were documented by the truck’s previous owner, Bluffton Township Fire District in South Carolina, which sold it back to Sutphen in 2013.

Blalock is reportedly in discussions with Sutphen at this time.

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