Swampscott ladder truck shuts down during fire

SWAMPSCOTT – A ladder truck, which is only three years old, had some problems at a massive fire scene in Lynn last Friday.According to Swampscott Fire Department Spokesman Jennifer Bleiker, Ladder 21 suffered a power failure while assisting with a four-alarm blaze at 14 Andrew St. in Lynn.”It appears the failure was due to a faulty alternator, as well as a hydraulic leak among other issues,” she said.Chief Richard Carmody said alternator failure is not that uncommon and a Lynn truck at the scene also had an alternator problem.At the time of the failure, firefighters were spraying thousands of gallons of water on the fire through holes cut in the roof by Lynn crews. They were able to continue pouring water on the blaze but were unable to reposition the ladder.Bleiker said firefighters were at the top of the tower when the equipment failed.”Lynn asked us to adjust our position to get water in the holes they had just cut,” she said. “There was a problem with the system and after about 15 minutes of trying to maneuver it everything went dark. We had guys up there who had to climb down.”Bleiker said Ladder 21 had been at the scene for more than 10 hours when the truck lost power.”With the assistance of the Lynn Fire Department mechanic and our firefighter they were able to retract the ladder,” she said. “The truck was able to limp back to the station.”The department purchased an American LaFrance truck, which was built in Ephrata, Pa. in November 2004 to replace a ladder truck that was 22 years old. The truck cost nearly $700,000 and is equipped with a 93-foot ladder tower that is aerial rated for 1,000 pounds.Bleiker said several Swampscott firefighters spent most of the day Saturday working on the disabled ladder truck including Firefighter Robert Randall.”They ran some drills and exercises,” she said. “The vehicle is now back in service and fully functioning.”Capt. Kevin Breen, who is very familiar with the apparatus, said American LaFrance has been contacted and would be looking at the truck as a precaution to make sure there are not any underlying electrical problems, which caused the alternator to fail.Ladder 21 was called into service again on Sunday when a car fire was reported at 176 Aspen Road.”Apparently, the car’s owner tried to start the car when it burst into flames,” Bleiker said. “After being unable to extinguish the fire himself a call to 911 was made. Firefighters arrived on scene within three minutes and found large flames coming from the engine of the car, as well as the passenger compartment. The flames were persistent because it took several minutes using a diamond-plated blade saw and other tools to pry open the hood of the car, which then was thoroughly drenched and extinguished.”Bleiker said there were no injuries but an adjacent car suffered minor damage due to heat from the fire.

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