Bot­tle-hurl­ing in­ci­dent prompts fire­fight­ers to take ex­tra pre­cau­tions

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - By JOSH SHAN­NON

Spe­cial from the Ne­wark Post

— Aetna Hose, Hook and Lad­der Co. is tak­ing pre­cau­tions af­ter some­one hurled a glass bot­tle at one of its fire en­gines as it was rac­ing to an apartment fire last week.

“It is in­com­pre­hen­si­ble that some­one would do any­thing that would en­dan­ger the lives of fire­fight­ers,” spokesman John H. Far­rell IV said. “At 45,000 pounds of steel and wa­ter, a crash of a fire engine of this size would surely in­jure or kill fire­fight­ers on the ap­pa­ra­tus or civil­ians in other ve­hi­cles.”

The in­ci­dent hap­pened at ap­prox­i­mately 10 p.m. Thurs­day on West Chest­nut Hill Road near the Academy Hills neigh­bor­hood as fire­fight­ers were head­ing to a re­ported fire at Oak Tree Apart­ments on We­nark Drive. The road is poorly lit, so fire­fight­ers didn’t see the per­son who threw the bot­tle, which shat­tered the wind­shield on the driver’s side.

No one was in­jured, and the driver was able to slowly pro­ceed the re­main­ing half-mile to the fire scene.

“The driver was able to slow the rig and main­tain con­trol of the fire engine,” Far­rell said. “He was able to keep the ap­pa­ra­tus on the road­way, con­sid­er­ing he had lit­tle view­ing area left to see through the re­main­ing glass.”

The dam­age will cost the vol­un­teer fire depart­ment more than $1,000. The engine, housed at Sta­tion 8 on Ogle­town Road, will be out of ser­vice for some time, and Aetna had to move an engine from another sta­tion to fill its place.

Far­rell stopped short of as­sert­ing that the in­ci­dent was a pur­pose­ful at­tack on fire­fight­ers – it could, he said, have been just a poorly-con­ceived child­ish prank – but said it is con­cern­ing in light of re­cent na­tional events and has prompted Aetna to im­ple­ment safety pre­cau­tions.

NE­WARK, DEL.

“Be­cause of height­ened con­cerns over be­ing tar­geted along with law en­force­ment, sta­tions have been told to keep ap­pa­ra­tus bay doors down,” Far­rell said.

At Sta­tion 9 on Academy Street, the prob­lem has been com­pounded by tres­passers lured there by the pop­u­lar smart­phone app Poké­mon Go. The app des­ig­nated the fire sta­tion as a “Pokéstop,” where users can load up on vir­tual sup­plies for the game. Far­rell said there were several in­ci­dents of Poké­mon play­ers wan­der­ing into the fire­house.

The need for added pre­cau­tions is sad, Far­rell said, not­ing that the fire sta­tions have al­ways wel­comed vis­i­tors, whether they were neigh­bors look­ing to chat or kids ex­cited to see a fire engine up close.

Far­rell said that in his 48 years in the fire ser­vice, he never ex­pe­ri­enced an Aetna fire engine be­ing tar­geted.

How­ever, a search of the Ne­wark Post ar­chives un­cov­ered a 2013 in­ci­dent in which an un­ruly crowd at­tempted to block Aetna fire­fight­ers from as­sist­ing with a house fire near Elk­ton, Md. One per­son climbed atop Aetna’s lad­der truck and another yelled “(Ex­ple­tive) you. This is my neigh­bor­hood,” po­lice re­ported at the time. One de­fen­dant later pleaded guilty to ob­struct­ing fire­fight­ers and was sen­tenced to six moths in jail, ac­cord­ing to court records.

State troop­ers are in­ves­ti­gat­ing last week’s bot­tle in­ci­dent, and any­one with in­for­ma­tion is asked to con­tact Cpl. Jac­que­lyn Reed at Delaware State Po­lice Troop 6 at 302-6335000. In­for­ma­tion may also be pro­vided by call­ing Delaware Crime Stop­pers at 1-800-TIP-3333, via the in­ter­net at www.delaware. crimestop­per­sweb. com, or by send­ing an anony­mous tip by text to 274637 (CRIMES) us­ing the key­word “DSP.”

SUMBITTED PHOTO

Some­one hurled a bot­tle at an Aetna fire engine last week, shat­ter­ing the wind­shield.

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