CORVALLIS, Ore. — Safety training really paid off for one Corvallis truck driver on Friday, after the dumpsters he was hauling caught fire.
For truck driver Brad Pitts, Friday morning started out to be just like any other work day at Republic Services. He picked up two boxes – which are industrial-sized dumpsters – and loaded them onto his truck and trailer, planning to drop them off at the landfill.
“Well I was headed down Highway 34 and I noticed smoke,” he said. “And smoke means fire. And I wanted it off the truck as soon as possible. We don’t want to burn a new truck to the ground.”
Around 10:30 Friday morning, he noticed that one of the dumpsters he was hauling was on fire.
“My heart was thumping,” he said. “But all the training we’ve done kicked in and I’m thankful for that.”
Three things went through his mind.
“You don’t want anybody getting hurt, you want it off the truck, and you do not want to damage somebody’s property.”
But getting the dumpsters off the truck is a production in itself.
“You have to jackknife the trailer to the side,” Pitts said. “So you have to find a spot big enough to do that.”
He pulled over in the Foress Sign and Manufacturing parking lot off of Highway 34. He was able to unload the flaming dumpster safely. And then he noticed that the other dumpster was on fire as well.
“You want to get it off as quick as possible before it burns the hydraulic hose, because once that’s burned, you can’t get it off,” Pitts said.
His goal, besides his own safety and not wanting to damage any property in front of the business, was to save the brand new truck – estimated to have cost between $250,000 – $300,000.
“My heart was pounding pretty hard,” Pitts said. “But I just did what we’re trained to do. I got the truck pulled over, got it off, got the truck away from the fire, and thankfully we saved the truck!”
The Albany and Corvallis Fire Departments put the fire out within 30 minutes. The truck and the dumpsters are all fine. The dumpsters lost a bit of paint in some spots – but can still be used.
Republic Services says the fire started inside one of the dumpsters then spread to the other one. The company is not saying where it picked up the dumpsters, and the Albany Fire Department is not yet releasing the cause.
“But you can see it had a lot of dry wood and stuff in it,” Pitts said as he pointed to one of the dumpsters.
At the end of his shift, Pitts said the only thing he felt was relief. The fire caused no injuries or property damage. He says if it weren’t for all the company safety training – the ending might have been different.
“It was not my typical workday,” he said. “But thankfully with the training that they gave us, I was happy that it turned out the way that it did.”