The City Beer Board, acting as the Wrecker Board, on Thursday heard a complaint about one wrecker company. Chattanooga Police Officer John Collins brought a violation against United Wrecker, 3810 Rossville Blvd., for an incident that took place on Jan. 25. The company responded to a two-car wreck on Ochs Highway without the proper equipment, it was stated.
Two wreckers were sent to help with towing the vehicles, one had no “oil dry” on the truck and the second tow truck had only four gallons of the material.
The official check-list that wreckers are given by the city says each truck must carry 50 pounds of the product. It is spread on liquid spills coming from wrecked vehicles in order to prevent slick roads and runoff of chemicals that ultimately end up in the Tennessee River.
The fire department also responds to wrecks and often arrives before a wrecker. The fire department had already spread the oil slick which they too carry, but it was insufficient to contain the spill. When the two wreckers arrived without having the specified amount, a fire truck was called to bring additional product. The owner of United Wrecker, Curtis Wilson, said neither driver had called him to bring more.
Officer Collins told the board that once 50-pound bags of oil dry is opened, it absorbs moisture and cannot be used, so most towing companies transfer it to smaller airtight buckets. In this case, the responding tow truck that had none on board had used its supply at a previous wreck that took place earlier in the week and the driver failed to replenish it. The second truck was carrying only four gallons.
It is perceived that the towing companies are increasingly relying on the fire department to clean up the oil spills even though their companies are being paid to do it, said board member Dan Mayfield. The fire department does not bill anyone for the cost of sending a truck and supplying the oil dry, the board was told. Mr. Mayfield also suggested that when they arrive, the fire department might notify the wrecker companies to bring additional material if the spill is large.
At the last wrecker board meeting on Feb. 2, Airport Wrecker, Inc. was penalized by being taken off the city’s rotation list for 30 days for the same violation – the second time it had happened in a 12 month period. The board voted unanimously on Thursday, to also remove United Wrecker from the rotation list for a period of 30 days.
Board member Christopher Keene appealed to the fire department to monitor wrecker services and said that the board needs to become more pollutant aware because the ultimate destination of runoff ends up in the river.
Officer Collins suggested changing the check list the companies are given by the city, to include more safety equipment. He also said that his department is trying to find more time to do inspections. He proposed that the companies themselves perform weekly inspections of their trucks in addition to the yearly inspections that he does.