Boston Fire Department will use ‘independent investigator’ to probe firetruck ladder collapse

A 90-feet ladder on a Boston fire truck  malfunctioned and collapsed Wednesday night.
Danny McDonald/Globe staff
A 90-feet ladder on a Boston fire truck malfunctioned and collapsed Wednesday night.

The Boston Fire Department said it will use an independent investigator to determine what caused a ladder on a Boston firetruck to malfunction and collapse Wednesday night at the scene of a fire in Mattapan, officials said.

The incident happened as crews battled a house fire, and the ladder ended up falling onto the roof of the home. The firefighter on the ladder managed to escape without injury, officials said.

Marc Sanders, a spokesman for the Fire Department, said the investigation was being launched into “how or why this occurred.”


The ladder is 90 feet long.

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“It’s not a common occurrence” for a ladder to drop down like that, Sanders said.

Sanders said the investigation “will be conducted by a qualified independent investigator.”

Firefighters responded to the fire at 9 Duke St. around 7:40 p.m. Wednesday and encountered fire and smoke in the three-decker, which is located in a hilly, thickly residential neighborhood just off of Blue Hill Avenue. A 2005 Pierce Tower unit with a bucket attached to the ladder was deployed to the scene with firefighters from Tower 10, officials said.

Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn said the ladder’s bucket was extended about 2 feet above the building’s roof when the top section of the ladder gave way. The lower section of the ladder then buckled. The ladder came to rest atop the roof, and the firefighter was able to get out of the bucket and onto the roof without injury, Finn said.


A crane had to be brought in to secure the ladder and lower it safely to the ground. The operation was completed after 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

Finn said Wednesday night that it was too early to tell what caused the ladder to malfunction. He said the department’s trucks are serviced regularly, and operator error did not factor into the hydraulic ladder’s failure.

“This is certainly a catastrophic failure of the truck,” Finn said.

Sanders said Tower 10 was using a reserve truck.

“This was a spare piece,” Sanders said.


Sanders said all apparatus are “regularly inspected and maintained.”

“That goes on daily in every firehouse across the city,” Sanders said.

Finn commended the department for how it handled the incident and tweeted that the commanders and emergency operations dispatchers did a “great job.”

“Proud of the professionalism by everyone,” Finn wrote in a tweet.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.