Wrong Parts in Boston Truck Crash

A Boston Fire Department contractor installed the wrong parts on Ladder 26 several months before it crashed, killing a firefighter at in early January, according to The Boston Globe.

The newspaper reviewed the police report from a recent investigation, which found the contractor replaced a brake chamber and pads on the ladder truck in spring of 2008, significantly decreasing the stopping power of the vehicle.

It also found that firefighters not licensed as mechanics repeatedly adjusted the brakes and may have masked underlying problems.

The decreased braking power played a role in the brake failure that occurred as Ladder 26 sped down a hill before slamming into an apartment building on Jan. 9, killing Lt. Kevin M. Kelley, according to the report.

The Globe clarifies that the report does not single out the parts or adjustments by unlicensed firefighters as primary causes, but instead added them to a long list of errors that contributed to the fatal crash.

Poor driver training and a lack of preventive maintenance also were found to be contributing factors.

Following the tragedy, the department has been scrutinized on how vehicle maintenance is handled.

A city-commissioned report released in March found there was no professional fleet manager or maintenance technicians, roles of maintenance division members were not clearly defined, there was no effective vehicle inspection program and the division lacked a sense of ownership and responsibility for the apparatus.

Paul Lauria, president of Maryland-based consulting firm Mercury Associates, which created the report, spoke to Firehouse.com following its release.

"Even 15 to 20 years ago I would question how effective (their practices) would have been. I think it makes perfect sense for some routine inspections to be done in the firehouse, but maintenance is different.

"A fire department's main mission is to fight fires, not to manage a fleet."