Report: Boston Gets 'F' for Fire Truck Maintenance

March 5, 2009
The city hired a consultant for the report in the wake of the Ladder 26 crash on Jan. 9 that killed Lt. Kevin Kelley.


A new report will give the Boston Fire Department a failing grade for truck maintenance, Team 5 has learned.

A consultant's report expected on Friday about the fire department's maintenance of apparatus will give mechanics and their supervisors a failing grade, Team 5 reported. The city hired the consultant in the wake of the Ladder 26 crash on Jan. 9 that killed Lt. Kevin Kelley.

Boston Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser told Team 5 that Mercury Consulting advised him that preventive maintenance inside the fire department is basically non-existent.

Team 5's Sean Kelly said it was discovered that repeated requests for help went unanswered.

Fraser told Team 5 Investigates that the report gives the city's fire truck mechanics and supervisors a failing grade. The review criticized the mechanics and supervisors for not knowing the most simple manufacturer's recommendations, like when to do oil changes.

Consultants reported that a preventative maintenance program is basically non-existent, which came as no surprise to the Boston Firefighters Union.

"It comes as no surprise to us that the maintenance is not getting a passing grade." said Ed Kelly, the union's president.

In fact, on numerous occasions, the union or firefighter supervisors warned the commissioner that more needed to be done to ensure public safety, Sean Kelly said.

A letter dated in 2006 obtained by Team 5 Investigates warned the commissioner of grave safety deficiencies because of equipment maintenance.

In 2007, the commissioner received a memo from the deputy of fleet maintenance that specifically asked for a preventative maintenance program -- the same type of program consultants recommended two months after a fatal crash from brake failure.

"I think that had that piece been inspected by a certified mechanic and maintained properly by a certified mechanic that there's a good possibility Kevin would be alive today and home with his family," Kelly said.

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