by: Catherine Varnum Updated:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department is getting rid of all cameras on its vehicles.
When every second counts, firefighters waste no time trying to get the scene. But sometimes crashes happen. Action News Jax received several videos from the fire chief. During one crash, the hit was so hard, the air bag deployed.
Another crash last year shows a truck driving 50 miles an hour, hitting a woman driving her car. In that case, Merebeth Calandro died from injuries months after the crash.
The chief said the fire truck ran the red light, and didn’t slow down even though it was responding to a call. Calandro's son said he’s glad the cameras were rolling.
“The statement made by the firefighters after the crash, and by witnesses, and the analysis was drastically different then what the film showed,” said Joseph Calandro.
Chief Kurtis Wilson told us Monday the cameras have created more than 200,000 videos since they were put in vehicles in 2013. He said while helpful at times, they also create more videos to review that don’t show any poor driving decisions.
Action News Jax Law and Safety expert Dale Carson said taking the cameras out isn’t a good idea. “It’s important to see what they’re doing. You can recreate certain circumstances that occur in front of you in real time to protect firefighters and citizens they serve,” said Carson.
While the chief said the program is also creating poor morale in the department, Calandro said his mom's case should be the reason to keep them. “Knowing my son will never know his grandma on my side, that’s probably the hardest,” said Calandro.
The city did pay out $300,000 to Calandro’s family as part of a settlement. The fire department has been taking the cameras out for the last couple months. The fire chief is still checking into how much this program initially cost to set up. Some of the cameras will be used on other vehicles in the public works department.