Phoenix fined $95K after firefighter's death

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX (AP) -- Phoenix fire officials say the driver of a fire engine that fatally struck a firefighter at the scene of a mulch fire five months ago wasn't using a spotter.

The Phoenix Fire Department released its report Tuesday on the May 18 accident that killed 23-year-old Brad Harper.

Harper was trapped between the engine and a door of his rescue ambulance. He was pronounced dead at a Phoenix hospital the next morning.

"He was a great guy, energetic, and a model firefighter," Operations Chief Kevin Kalkbrenner told 3TV after the report's release on Tuesday.

Kalkbrenner says 'several' people faced disciplinary action after the accident, but declined to comment further. The driver of the truck which pinned Harper is still on the job.

The chief blamed the captain on scene for not having a spotter, to help the driver back the truck up at the fire scene.

Having a spotter is long-standing department policy, according to the chief. Violating that rule resulted in $95,000 in fines against the city. Some of the money will go to Harper's family.

Investigators and the committee are recommending new safety training in awareness at emergency scenes and devices on fire equipment such as backup cameras or automatic brakes.

"That will help, but  it's not going to take the place of spotters or the place of awareness on the fire ground and watching out for each other," Chief Kalkbrenner said.

A review board also concluded Harper was likely focused on other tasks and didn't notice the approaching engine.

Officials agreed with a previous Phoenix police report, saying no criminal or civil charges would be filed.