Careless driver warned about driving over fire hose during Saturday blaze

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The car that drove over a section of fire hose (foreground).

POUGHKEEPSIE – The Poughkeepsie Fire Department and several others were battling a large fire on Mansion Street Saturday when a careless driver drove over a supply hose.  The hose was being prepared to be connected to a hydrant near Smith Street and deliver water to Poughkeepsie’s Tower Ladder 2 which needed water for the fire.

Arlington Fire District Chief Bill Steenbergh was the first to notice the motorist drive over the very expensive, large-diameter hose.  As he called attention to it, Steenbergh and others, including a City of Poughkeepsie police officer, watched the motorist proceed to then back over the hose in an attempt to park on Mansion Street.

Steenbergh and the police officer spoke with the driver about the dangers created by the action.  The driver was very apologetic.

The hose that was driven over is a five-inch large diameter hose (LDH), belonging to one of the assisting fire departments.  The 100-foot-long sections of the hose are coupled together to get water from the hydrant to the apparatus.

At Saturday’s fire, several lengths of LDH were needed to get from the hydrants to the trucks needing water.  Each section of hose costs about $1,000 and is not as abrasion resistant as the smaller diameter hoses that firefighters take into burning buildings.

Poughkeepsie Fire Chief Joe Franco warned against driving over hoses at the scene of a fire.  Regarding Saturday’s driver, Franco said, “A car’s hot catalytic converter will melt an LDH fire hose and delay valuable water from reaching a fire.”

Chief Steenbergh has encountered the carelessness of drivers before.  At a fire in Arlington earlier this year, a driver ignored the safety of firefighters and drove over a section of LDH that was filled with water being carried to the fire.  The weight of the vehicle interrupted the water supply between the hydrant and firefighters, putting their lives at risk.

“Damaging our supply line by driving over it, could be immediately life-threatening to both firefighters or trapped civilians, as it interferes with our ability to attack the fire,” Steenbergh warned, noting that it is against the state’s vehicle and traffic laws.  The motorist at that fire was ticketed by police.

In the City of Newburgh in 2018, a school transport van drove over an LDH hose while city firefighters were fighting a fire.  The van, operated by a driver for George M. Carrol, got stuck while driving over the hose, infuriating the Newburgh Fire Chief Terry Ahlers, now retired.  At the time, Ahlers warned against driving over fire hoses, saying, “Drivers should never drive over a hose line. The water is a lifeline to whoever is working at the other end. A hose that is damaged due to a vehicle driving over it could result in injuries to firefighters or to anyone who gets caught in it as the vehicle drags it along.”