2 Charlotte firefighters suspended following vehicle accident

The Charlotte Fire Department confirmed Saturday that two employees were suspended without pay after a May 9 traffic accident that totaled a department ladder truck.

Ladder 32 was responding to an emergency medical call when the truck overturned at the intersection of Ardrey Kell and Bridgehampton Road just before 8:30 a.m., according to officials. No other vehicles were involved in the accident and the four firefighters on board were treated for minor injuries.

Investigators with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Major Crash Unit determined that speed was the cause of the crash.

Firefighter Mark Staker was driving the truck at about 44 mph just before the crash, according to a CMPD report. The speed limit on that stretch of road – a residential street just west of U.S. 521 – is 25 mph.

The truck skidded about 25 feet and caught fire. A second firetruck responding to the emergency put out the flames on the overturned vehicle. The crash caused about $800,000 in damage.

After an internal investigation, department officials said “discipline was administered” to Staker and the onboard captain on May 27.

Staker was suspended for two weeks without pay and the captain was suspended for one week without pay. Citing personnel confidentiality, department officials did not release the captain’s name.

According to the Observer’s 2014 salary database for city employees, Staker’s annual salary is $65,291. The database listed the annual salary of fire captains at Station 32 as $81,291.

Fire officials could not say Saturday how long each had been a department employee.

All Charlotte firefighters – including engineers, or drivers – must take a state certification course to operate emergency vehicles, a department spokesperson said.

By the end of the year, all CFD vehicle operators will be required to complete an Emergency Vehicle Operations Course as part of their quarterly in-service training, officials said.

“The primary mission of the Charlotte Fire Department is to respond to those in need in a safe and timely manner,” the department said.

Staff writer Cleve R. Wootson, Jr. contributed.