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Federal Safety Agency Opens Probe into Fire Truck Recall

Aug 20, 2014

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating whether the remedy used in the recall of 156 fire trucks last year was adequate to fix a problem with aerial ladders that can unexpectedly fall.

In November 2013, Sutphen Corp. recalled 156 aerial platform trucks from model years 2000 through 2011 because the ladder could retract unexpectedly, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Last week, the company issued another recall hours after three Georgia firefighters were injured when a five-section ladder suddenly retracted more than 20 feet before it jammed. The firefighters were engaged in a training exercise in the bucket atop the ladder of the 2006 engine when the bucket unexpectedly dropped. The previous month, three Pennsylvania firefighters were injured during a rapid descent of their aerial platform on a 2010 Sutphen truck. Since these injuries occurred after the trucks had been repaired in the 2013 recall, NHTSA is investigating “the adequacy of the recall remedy.”

The NHTSA investigation includes trucks from the 2000 to 2012 model years made by Ohio-based Sutphen Corp. In a July statement on Sutphen’s web site, the company president Drew Sutphen advised customers not to use the ladders until further notice. Sutphen has “voluntarily removed all 5-Section Aerial Devices (SPH 100, SP 110, SPI 112, and SAI 110) from service” and is undertaking a thorough review, the letter said.

According to documents filed with NHTSA in last year’s recall, ball bearings could seize, causing the cables running over them to chafe and fail. Last week’s recall included the same four models involved in the 2013 recall.

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