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Another firetruck had faulty brakes

Crash occurred 10 days before fatal accident

By John M Guilfoil
Globe Correspondent / February 6, 2009
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Ten days before faulty brakes caused Boston Fire Department Ladder 26 to crash through a brick wall and into a building, killing 30-year veteran Lieutenant Kevin M. Kelley, another ladder truck had lost its brakes and crashed, fire officials said.

On Dec. 31, firefighters aboard Ladder 23 driving in Mission Hill reported losing air brake pressure, causing the truck's brakes not to function and the truck to crash through a residential fence near Frawley and Stockwell streets, Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald said yesterday. No one was injured.

The truck that crashed was not the usual Ladder 23, but a backup apparatus otherwise known as Reserve Truck No. 7, which was filling in for the normal ladder that was out of service that day. The accident occurred about a block from the scene of the Jan. 9 fatal Ladder 26 crash.

Ladder 23 is housed in the Grove Hall station with Engine 24.

The Boston Firefighters Local 718 union blames the recent firetruck repair problems on the city and Mayor Thomas M. Menino, saying the crash should have raised an alarm in the city.

"The Menino administration has allowed the condition of fire apparatus to put not only firefighters' lives but the lives of the people of Boston in jeopardy," said Edward Kelly, president of Local 718. "We were very lucky that no civilians nor members of Ladder 23 were injured or killed that night."

Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser countered, saying finger-pointing wasn't going to fix the department's maintenance situation.

"The fact of the matter is the city does not run the Fire Department. The Fire Department is run by a team effort from the city and people from Local 718, and as such we should work as a team going forward to make sure none of these things ever happens again," Fraser said. "Instead of finger-pointing we should work as a team, because we are a team."

John M. Guilfoil can be reached at jguilfoil@globe.com.

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