A little help from our friends: Relying on mutual aid

The ladder truck from Ashland often responds to mutual aid calls from Southborough (photo from the Ashland Fire Departement)
The ladder truck from Ashland often responds to mutual aid calls from Southborough (photo from the Ashland Fire Department)

(This is part 3 in a series of posts about the proposal for a new aerial ladder truck in Southborough. For more information, see the series introduction.)

“We had to stand there and watch it burn.” That’s what Fire Chief John Mauro Jr. said about a residential chimney fire his crew responded to late last year.

Chief Mauro had to call in a ladder truck from Ashland since Southborough’s only ladder truck is no longer in service. Firefighters on the scene watched sparks from the chimney shower the roof while they waited for Ashland’s truck to arrive.

“If we had a quint* we could have been done in half an hour,” Chief Mauro said.

And that’s one of the problems with relying on mutual aid from surrounding towns: it takes precious minutes for the equipment to arrive. Given that a residential fire doubles in intensity every 10-30 seconds, minutes mean everything.

According to Chief Mauro it can take 10 to 15 minutes for a ladder truck from a neighboring town to reach a fire in Southborough, depending on where the fire is and where the truck is coming from.

There’s also no guarantee a ladder truck will be available when you need it to be. When a fire broke out in a house on Oak Hill Road last year, the three nearest ladder trucks — one from Ashland and two from Framingham — were not available.

It was those concerns about response time and availability that led the Aerial Ladder Study Committee to reject the idea of sharing a ladder truck with a neighboring town.

It was also a concern about access, that is, the ability of a ladder truck to physically reach the homes in town. Turns out Southborough has some tight spots.

More on the access issue tomorrow.

*A quint is the type of ladder truck the committee recommends the town purchase. It’s a combination ladder and pumper truck. More on this in an upcoming post.

  • © 2022 MySouthborough.com — All rights reserved.