Saturday, March 2, 2013
The last thing that Nashua Fire Lt. Mark
Wholey and his crew expected when they rolled out of the East Hollis
Street station on the way to a call Friday afternoon was for one of the
fire engine’s front wheels to fall off.
But that was precisely the situation in
which they found themselves when Engine 4, Nashua Fire Rescue’s
second-oldest regular-service engine, skidded slowly to a stop on the
edge of East Hollis Street no more than 50 feet from the station.
“They were quite taken aback, as you might
imagine,” Deputy Chief Karl Gerhard said, standing with the crew and
police near where the hobbled vehicle lay.
“What’s most important is that no
firefighters or citizens were injured,” he added, crediting the driver,
whom he declined to name, for “falling back on his training” to wrestle
the crippled vehicle safely to a stop.
What went wrong, Gerhard said, won’t be
known for two or three days, “until we get it in the shop and the
mechanics get a chance to look it over.”
Luckily, he said, the call to which Engine
4 was responding – smoke from a roof on West Pearl Street – turned out
to be a malfunctioning oil burner, a minor incident that was quickly
under control. Engine 2 from Lake Street station was dispatched when
Wholey radioed that Engine 4 was out of service because of a mechanical
Engine 4, a 2004 Pierce Arrow XT, is
second behind Amherst Street’s Engine 1, a 2001 Pierce Enforcer, among
the department’s “front line,” or regular-service, engines, Gerhard
Of the other four regular-service engines –
all of which are Pierce Arrow XT models – Engine 2, a 2011 model, is
the newest, followed by Engine 5, 2010; Engine 3, 2009; and Engine 6,
In 2011, Engine 4 was the city’s busiest
engine, responding to 2,034 calls, slightly more than Engine 2’s 1,906
runs, according to the most recent data available. Engine 4 and Ladder 2
are the department’s designated mutual-aid companies.
Within an hour of Engine 4’s collapse,
which left arc-shaped rubber and scrape marks behind, the crew was
transferring their gear to Engine 8, a spare engine that arrived from
the airport station.
Fire Commissioner Kevin Gage said he
happened to be driving by the scene on his way home when he noticed
something wasn’t quite right.
“As I got closer, I saw (Engine 4) just sitting there, tilted over,” Gage said, echoing Gerhard’s earlier comments.
“First, I was just glad everyone’s OK. That’s my main thing.”