A tribute and solemn reminder for East Texas firefighters

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

KILGORE, TX (KLTV) - The Kilgore Fire Department has said that they now require the use of safety restraints when firefighters are using ladder trucks during training exercises and while fighting fires.

The policy has been adopted after the tragic accident that lead to the deaths of Kilgore firefighters, Kyle Perkins and Cory Galloway in January.

According to the official findings, several errors, including no restraints and training on unfamiliar equipment along with a design element, "lifting eyes", that jammed under the building ledge,  contributed to the accident.

Investigators say they examined the truck in question closely, and it remains in service with the Kilgore Police Department.

Ladder One sits idle at Fire Central in Kilgore, in what will be a permanent reminder to city workers of a terrible day in January.

"All the firefighters, I think, are at a point where they're not going to forget Kyle and Cory," said Ronnie Moore, Kilgore's public safety officer.

The original basket from ladder one has been replaced. In the tragedy something good has happened, they've learned what went wrong.

It was a design element, "lifting eyes," that jammed under the roof ledge and was a major factor in the deaths of Galloway and Perkins.

"That was the red flag was the ladder bowing," explained Moore. "One of the operators on the ground saw the ladder bow, but by the time they hit the device to shut it down it was too late."

Moore is contacting other fire groups.

"I've contacted many fire departments to see what their policies are," he said. "Something that will honor those who've paid that ultimate sacrifice and in this one we did learn and I think other fire departments have something to learn over this."

The ladder has been refitted to correct the problems, and Moore hopes it will be a lesson to other departments.

"Maybe it will help somebody else to not go through this tragedy," said Moore.

The re-fitted Ladder One is scheduled for another training session with firefighters on August 15th. Currently in Texas, safety restraints are not required by state firefighter guidelines.

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