GRAND PRAIRIE (WBAP/KLIF)- The Grand Prairie Fire Department has launched an innovative way to help curb highway accidents. The department has Launched the first fire truck-mounted attenuator program in the United States.
In response to the growing number of highway incidents involving first responders, the GPFD outfitted two of its reserved apparatuses with truck-mounted attenuators (TMAs) to serve as temporary traffic control and advance warning signals for motorists during the early stages of highway traffic incidents.
“The application of innovative technology to incident response operations showcases the department’s commitment to improving the safety of our first responders and motorists on roadways,” says GPFD Fire Chief Robert Fite. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire truck accidents rank as the second leading cause of on-the-job deaths for firefighters. In 2019, the Emergency Responder Safety Institute reported 44 first responders were struck and killed by vehicles. The number of near misses and injuries is higher but unknown.
A first of its kind in the nation mounted on fire apparatus, the Scorpion TMAs developed by TrafFix Devices Inc. contain TXDOT-approved collision barriers designed to protect the motorist upon impact. They meet all required crash testing as defined by the Manual for Accessing Safety Hardware (MASH). MASH presents uniform guidelines for crash testing permanent and temporary highway safety features developed by the American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Federal and State Departments of transportation adopt the MASH standards to improve highway workers and motorists’ safety.
“You are not only protecting the lives of firefighters but also the lives of distracted drivers,” says Jim Marshall, vice president of Marketing for TrafFix Devices, Inc. “Our Scorpion attenuator will take the impact, attenuate the energy and, in most cases, the host vehicle can go with no damage or minimal damage in a crash.”
The use of TMAs on fire apparatus provides cost savings for municipalities and taxpayers. The average cost to replace a frontline fire truck can reach up to $1.1 million, not to mention the out-of-service time and personnel injury and disability costs involved. In comparison, the cost of outfitting one TMA apparatus is approximately $34,000, and under $20,000 to replace the TMA device. To assist with the outfitting and modification of GPFD’s reserve fire trucks, the department partnered with Travis McCain of Gulf Highway Equipment, an attenuator program and installation expert, and the only company currently authorized to install TMAs on fire apparatus.