BOSTON (CBS) — The city of Boston is in the middle of buying all new fire engines and ladder trucks for all of its stations.
The new vehicles come with the latest safety equipment and all the bells and whistles, but Engine 33 should also have come with a shoe-horn.
It belongs in the Boylston Street station, one of the city’s oldest and busiest companies. Built in 1887, for a time when fire trucks were fire carriages, the station will fit a team of horses just fine. But modern equipment is a different story.
Years ago, the city actually lowered the floor a few inches in the left-hand bay, so the new ladder truck fits snugly inside. But the engine truck is tougher. Technically speaking, the new Engine 33 does fit in this station, but it’s several inches wider than the old Engine 33, leaving roughly an inch of clearance on either side.
Since fire engines are usually in a hurry, a tight-fit is a bad fit. “These guys are one of the busiest companies in the city, so they’re going in and out of here constantly,” according to Boston Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser.
That means needing to slowly back into, and pull out of, the station just wasn’t going to work. To do so would have risked structural damage to the iconic arches of the 123-year-old station as well as damage to the new truck — which costs upwards of $416,000. ” We set a maximum height on the apparatus, and we thought that height would enable it to get in and out of here,” Fraser said. “But the archway, the way its built, it just made it really tight. Maybe we should have foreseen that, but we didn’t.”
So Engine 33 has a new name: Engine 14. And it now calls the fire station in Roxbury home. It fits nicely there, since the Roxbury station was built in the 70s and can accommodate bigger equipment.
The old Engine 14 was on the list to be replaced anyway; it just jumped ahead of Engine 33 because of the tight fit over on Boylston Street.
Commissioner Fraser says the city custom-orders all of its fire trucks anyway, so getting a smaller one that fits in Boylston Street shouldn’t cost any extra. He hopes the new engine will arrive by June 2011.