Audit Calls for $22M for Boston Fire Improvements

The proposed cost, spread over 15 years, would replace fire trucks and modernize the department's inventory.

In 2009, Boston Fire Lieutenant Kevin Kelley was killed when the ladder truck he was riding in lost its brakes and slammed into a Mission Hill apartment building. Inadequate maintenance and faulty equipment was to blame.

Seven years later, a newly-released city audit shows problems persist.

An audit commissioned by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh calls for the city of to spend $22 million dollars over the next 15 years to replace dozens of fire trucks and bring the department's inventory in line with national standards.

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The audit found maintenance in the aging fleet of pump and ladder trucks has been "under invested in for decades" -- fault Boston Firefighters union spokesman Rich Paris lays squarely at the feet of the Menino administration.

“They didn't care, they really didn't care about the firefighters,” Paris said.

Menino and the union were locked in bitter contract negotiations for years. The audit found fire facilities have been so neglected they now need excessive repairs to fix cracked walls, floors, broken plumbing, handicap accessibility, and deficient smoke and carbon monoxide detectors among other things.

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Work has begun to replace fire equipment and upgrade station houses across the city. A fire spokesman tells necn that Engines 33 in Back Bay and 50 in Charlestown will be renovated, while Engines 42 in Roxbury and 17 in Dorchester will be replaced all together.

Paris -- heartened by the commitment of the Walsh Administration -- says it will be the first time a new fire house has been built since the 19-80s.

“It's baby steps,” he said. “At least the baby is finally walking.”

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