One firefighter died and four others sustained serious injuries when a fire engine was hit by a semitrailer in Kaohsiung on Thursday.
Kaohsiung prosecutors have initiated an investigation, with the driver of the semitrailer, a man surnamed Chang (張), facing charges of negligence resulting in death and offenses against public safety.
He was released yesterday after posting bail of NT$100,000.
The crash occurred at about 10pm as emergency services from the Fongshan (鳳山) Fire Station were responding to reports of a blaze on Dingpu Street. The vehicles collided at an intersection under an East West Expressway overpass.
The collision left the fire engine on its side and several firefighters were thrown from the vehicle.
The unit’s captain, Feng Yung-chang (馮永昌), died.
He was 54.
Four of Feng’s colleagues sustained serious injuries, including broken legs and facial lacerations, and were undergoing emergency medical treatment yesterday.
Chang, who sustained minor injuries, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.06 milligrams per liter, while the legal limit is 0.15 milligrams per liter.
Prosecutors said that Chang told them he had one cup of Paolyta B, a herbal beverage that has an alcohol content of 8 to 10 percent.
Chang said that he had not heard the fire engine’s siren, prosecutors said.
Government officials yesterday said that safety measures and on-duty procedures must be reviewed, as the firefighters were wearing lots of firefighting gear on their way to the reported fire, which left them unable to strap on the vehicle’s seatbelts.
This contributed to the severity of their injuries as they were thrown out of the vehicle, the officials said.
In other news, Taichung prosecutors yesterday charged the owner of a paper mill with negligence and other offenses leading to the death of two firefighters in a blaze in October last year.
Chen Chun-fu (陳俊孚), 54, was charged with breaches of the Fire Services Act (消防法), with prosecutors saying that the paper mill he operated was an illegal structure.
The structure in Taichung’s Daya District (大雅) also breached electrical wiring and machinery standards, which have been identified as the cause of the blaze, which killed Hsieh Chih-hsiung (謝志雄), 33, and Chang Che-chia (張哲嘉), 32, who were crushed beneath falling debris.
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