Ladder truck inspected by chief before delivery

RYAN HUTTON/ Staff photosThe Andover Fire Department’s new Ladder 1 truck is just too big to fit under the Horn Bridge on Central Street. The new truck sits at 11 feet, 11 inches, while the bridge’s height is 11 feet, 6 inches.

Prior to the delivery of a $1 million ladder truck that is too tall to fit under the Horn Bridge, fire Chief Michael Mansfield inspected the vehicle that now has been sent back to the manufacturer for adjustments.

From May 14 to 16, more than a month before the truck was delivered July 2, Mansfield traveled to Wisconsin for the inspection, a trip which he arranged with Bill O'Connor, vice president of sales and marketing for Minuteman Fire and Rescue Apparatus.

An email exchange between Mansfield and O'Connor, which was obtained by The Eagle-Tribune through a public records request, shows plans being made for Mansfield's trip. 

On April 11, O'Connor wrote to Mansfield, "Here are the flights for the inspection."

A prior email, sent from O'Connor on April 9, checked the dates of May 14 to May 16 with Mansfield for him to fly to Wisconsin for the inspection.

Despite the inspection, when the truck was delivered it stood at a height of 11 feet, 11 inches. Horn Bridge, the small railroad bridge over Central Street at the intersection of Andover Street and Red Spring Road, is 11 feet, 6 inches tall.

In a statement sent nearly two weeks after the delivery, Mansfield wrote that the truck "underwent a thorough inspection" within hours of its delivery and would be sent back to the manufacturer to "conform with the town's needs" at no additional cost.

"Following that inspection, the town issued a letter of non-conformance to the truck's manufacturer, Pierce Manufacturing, after it determined that the truck was not built to Andover Fire Rescue's exact specifications," the statement read.

Mansfield could not be reached for comment for this story.

Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said fitting under the bridge was part of the specifications that were developed and submitted to the manufacturer prior to the truck being built, and said the "site visit" in May did not include the inspection of height and width dimensions.

"The purpose of the site visit is to make sure that all of the options are included in the final design," he said. "There is no verification process for either height or width dimensions during the site visit. Perhaps there should be, so that the manufacturer can avoid this type of situation from happening in the future."

O'Connor did not respond to phone calls or an email for comment.

The town expects the new truck will enter service in early September.