THREE FORKS, Mont. - In 2005, the manufacturer issued a recall for the drive shaft on the 2002 International 4800 4x4 fire truck.
When we started digging in to the recall, we found other International fire trucks with similar equipment failures.
In July 2011, the drive shaft of a Nevada BLM fire truck failed. The shaft separated from the truck, spraying pieces of the drive train all over the road. According to the report, it severely damaged the truck's engine, totaled a car and damaged three other vehicles.
That truck, a 2002 International 4800, is the same base model as the one involved in June's deadly Highway 12 crash near Helena.
Inside the Nevada crash findings report, investigators found that the original drive shaft was part of a the May 2005 recall. Documents of the recall were found. It said that the original drive shaft had a problem that kept it from properly connecting to engine parts like it should.
The failure could cause the drive shaft to separate from the truck. The Nevada truck had been serviced as part of the recall and a new drive shaft had been installed. Turns out, the design on the replacement drive shaft had a part that couldn't be greased regularly and without the grease, the part would heat up, wear down and eventually fail.
The report stated that this wasn't the first time this happened to a BLM Nevada truck. A similar incident happened in August of 2010 and two California fire trucks experienced similar failures, but with less damage.
The Nevada crews were aware of the recall and issues and did daily and weekly inspections, but were never told of a 50,000-mile lifespan on the replacement axles. According to the 2011 crash investigator, that information never made it to the field.
NBC Montana has asked for the maintenance records for the Three Forks fire engine involved in the crash.
Multiple calls were made to Three Forks Fire Department and multiple trips were taken to Three Forks City offices and the fire station. No response has come from the person in charge of those records.