DALLAS - A $1 million Dallas fire truck is likely totaled after a drunk driving suspect slammed into it Thursday morning.
The truck was blocking an accident scene on I-30 when it was hit from behind. Luckily, no firefighters were hurt.
Now, Dallas Fire-Rescue is considering ways to protect first responders and expensive equipment in these types of close calls.
Station 19's ladder truck was hit around 3:30 a.m. at I-30 and Dolphin Road. The truck was blocking three lanes of traffic to protect first responders. The driver who hit it was critically injured.
"That same truck was struck two times in one night at the same location less than three hours apart,” said Jason Evans with Dallas Fire-Rescue.
It was another suspected drunk driver who sideswiped the same fire truck as the same crew worked another crash. Now, DFR says a million-dollar piece of equipment may be totaled.
Irving Fire Chief Victor Conley says his city knows the problem very well. In July 2015, a suspected drunk driver struck an Irving police car, nearly hitting the officer. An 18-wheeler then slammed into an Irving fire truck at the scene, ejecting the three firefighters inside. They were injured but did recover.
“In all reality? We should have lost all three firefighters” the chief said. “Not only that, but we lost a million-dollar piece of equipment."
Frustrated by these kinds of incidents, the chief decided to do something about it.
"We're taking these old pieces of apparatus rather than auctioning them off right away we're outfitting them like blockers,” he said.
For $3,500, Chief Conley says the old fire trucks can be equipped with lights and direction signs, turning them into 80,000-pound traffic protectors. Last year, the department put four of those blocker trucks in service.
"To protect my personnel and protect my citizens' investment? I'll do it all day long,” Conley said.
Dallas Fire-Rescue says it has been talking to Chief Conley about his truck blocker program. He says fire department all across the country have contacted him about how they might be able to do the same thing.