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Boston Fire Truck in Fatal Crash Had Wrong Brake Parts

December 15, 2009

BOSTON --- A police investigation of a fatal Boston fire truck crash has found that a Fire Department contractor installed the wrong parts on the ladder truck's brakes several months before the crash. Moreover, the investigation found that firefighters who were not licensed mechanics repeatedly adjusted the brakes in violation of national safety guidelines, the Boston Globe reported.

The contractor replaced a brake chamber and brake pads on Ladder 26 with "unsuitable'' parts in spring 2008, which significantly compromised stopping power, according to a copy of the investigation report obtained by the Globe. When firefighters working on the truck later noticed the brakes not working properly, they made manual adjustments that may have masked underlying problems. 

The 20-page report, prepared by Boston police homicide investigators, references guidelines issued in 2006 by the National Transportation Safety Board that said such adjustments are "a dangerous practice that can have serious consequences." 

The diminished braking power contributed to the massive brake failure Jan. 9, when Ladder 26 barreled down a steep hill and slammed into an apartment building, killing Lieutenant Kevin M. Kelley, the report said.

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