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Fire Engine Falls Through Deck At Paoli Hospital

The engine and two others were there to honor a dying volunteer's last wishes.

A fire engine that and had to be lifted out was there to honor the final wish of a dying member of the fire department.

According to a statement from West Chester Fire Department Chief Dale McClure, a 25-year member of the department with terminal cancer had requested that company apparatus escort him from the hospital to a hospice care center in West Chester.

The engine, from Good Will Fire Company No. 2, arrived with at least two others at the hospital around 1:30 p.m. Thursday to fulfill the firefighter's request.

According to a statement from McClure, the engines began to stage in a rear parking lot near the cancer center as the member was prepared for transport in an ambulance. As the apparatus pulled into the lot, the concrete beneath it gave way.

No one was injured in the incident, but at least one car parked in the underground level beneath the engine was damaged by falling debris. The hospital moved as many cars out of harm's way as was safely possible, according to Main Line Health spokesperson Bridget Therriault.

Structural engineers from The Harman Group and High Concrete were called to the scene to help plan the best way to safely remove the fire engines.

The stuck engine was blocking the lot's only exit, so members of the hospital's maintenance staff constructed a ramp out of gravel to allow the other two fire engines to exit. Then, at approximately 7 p.m., crews from were able to hoist the stuck engine out of its hole.

The engine was able to reverse backward into the adjoining lot on its damaged tire, which was then replaced by . No other damage to the engine was evident, and it was able to be driven off the lot.

An employee of High Concrete said the ground gave way because the surface was not designed to handle that much weight. The engine weighed approximately 15 to 20 tons, according to multiple sources at the scene. The parking structure is approximately 20 years old, according to a hospital administrator.

Jim Paradis, vice president of administration at Main Line Health, which operates Paoli Hospital, said the lower level of the parking lot would be open Friday. The hole would be covered with steel plates and the entire upper level would be blocked off, he said.

Paoli Fire Company and were among those who responded to the scene. A West Chester Borough Police officer also arrived to document the situation, which is standard procedure when a borough-owned vehicle is involved in an accident.

Susan July 13, 2012 at 12:00 PM
I hope the Fire crew were able to complete their mission for their colleague. And kudos to all who responded, Baird and Rudolph, Abel brothers, High Concrete, police and Main Line Health.
Richard Lee July 13, 2012 at 01:01 PM
I am totally surprised by how thin the concrete decking is! It looks likes less than 2" and no reinforcing bars! And why would it be designed not to support a fire truck?
Vince M July 13, 2012 at 01:04 PM
This why firefighting should be left to professionals who are smart enough to check the capasity of a parking garage before overloading it. I hope the driver was cited fkor his in attention to this critical error which could have cost the lives of the men on the truck.
Steve July 13, 2012 at 03:02 PM
How do you know the operator of the engine wasnt a professional?
Joe Dow July 13, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Define "professionals", and also where you live. I guarantee the individuals who would respond to your emergency should you have one are the same people you are criticizing, or at least have the same amount of training. In fact, why don't you ask them to "check the capacity" of your road before they try to help you.
Mike gillott July 13, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Maybe writing comments should be left to the professionals who are smart enough to know how to spell capacity, Vince M.
Steve July 13, 2012 at 09:50 PM
These men and women who are volunteers (West Chester Fire Department and the rest of the Chester County Fire& EMS Departments) are professionals and are held to the same standards, and have the exact same training as paid firefighters all over the state and country. Paid and volunteer firefighters make the same mistakes all over the country everyday (worse then a fire truck getting stuck) AND THEY’RE ALL ACIDENTS. How dare you criticize your local first responders who take thousands of hours out of the life to protect their next store neighbor and complete strangers like you Vince.
Steve July 13, 2012 at 09:51 PM
These men and women are volunteers (West Chester Fire Department and the rest of the Chester County Fire& EMS Departments) are professionals and are held to the same standards, and have the exact same training as paid firefighters all over the state and country. Paid and volunteer firefighters make the same mistakes all over the country everyday (worse then a fire truck getting stuck) AND THEY’RE ALL ACIDENTS. How dare you criticize your local first responders who take thousands of hours out of the life to protect their next store neighbor and complete strangers like you Vince.
Teresa Marlino July 14, 2012 at 05:12 PM
I work at Paoli Hospital and there was no sign with a weight limit on the garage roof...a costly oversight.
tony July 15, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Crap happens, those who are quick to critisize should spend some time with the vol. Fire companies. Thank god for them. I did that at one time it is so time consumming most people can't believe. Be thankful they are doing it while the whiners. Cry
R July 21, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Listen to yourselves...shame on you! Things happen...it's no one's fault! Nor does it define who is a professional and who is not. Kudos to the person who reminded the opinionated individual about "capacity"! Yes, be thankful!! And keep your nasty comments to yourself!

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