Medford (MA) Fire Apparatus Maintenance Under Scrutiny

Following the breakdown of three fire engines last week, some city officials and union leaders are questioning Medford’s (MA) procedures for maintaining fire vehicles.

Medford Firefighters Union President Bill O’Brien said when ball joints in the wheel of Medford’s Engine 1 truck snapped on Monday, July 29, firefighters could have been injured in the accident.

However, Fire Chief Frank A. Giliberti Jr. said the trucks are regularly serviced, and he does not believe routine maintenance could have prevented the accident.

“Our mechanic has the trucks on a schedule,” said Giliberti.”He goes through them front to back. No truck goes out the door if I, the deputy or the mechanic feels it’s a danger to any of the members.”

A few days after one truck went down, Engine 4 on Riverside Avenue began experiencing electrical issues over the weekend of Aug. 3. At the same time, the city’s reserve truck at Engine 3 in Haines Square was also down due to mechanical issues.

“Typically, we have five pumps in service,” said Giliberti. “Our two back-ups were needed, but were unavailable.”

Giliberti said the deputy fire chief decided to put a second ladder truck in service over the weekend, leaving the city without water pumper trucks at Engine 3 near Haines Square and Engine 4 near Wellington Circle.

The Fire Department does not have a full-time mechanic to service fire vehicles in its budget. Instead, the department shares a full-time mechanic with the Department of Public Works (DPW).

Last fiscal year, the city budgeted $31,000 for the Fire Department’s motor repair supplies and $21,000 for repair services. However, the department’s repair services budget was cut to $10,000 this fiscal year.

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