ANDOVER — A new $1 million ladder firetruck is too tall to fit under the Horn bridge, the small railroad bridge over Central Street at the intersection of Andover Street and Red Spring Road, said Fire Chief Mike Mansfield.
The truck, which Mansfield said was supposed to emulate the current 11 foot, 4 inch ladder one truck, appeared taller than that truck when it was delivered. Mansfield said that caused fire officials to immediately begin taking measurements of the new vehicle.
"It looked higher, so as a proactive move we went down there, blocked off traffic on either side of the Horn Bridge with our mechanic, and discovered that it was a bit too high," Mansfield said. "We didn't take any chances with it. We felt by doing that we were being proactive."
The height of the bridge is 11 feet, 6 inches. The new truck stands at a height of 11 feet, 11 inches — exceeding the bridge height by 5 inches.
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. He said the manufacturer — Pierce Manufacturing — has acknowledged the truck isn't in compliance and is cooperating in making adjustments.
"It will fit," Flanagan said. "The truck was actually built so it could fit under the Horn Bridge. ... It will fit after some adjustments which are part of getting the truck ready to put in service."
Mansfield and town officials are working with the manufacturer to make adjustments in suspension as part of the post-delivery process. They are also looking at alternative solutions to bring the truck down several inches, with ideas such as changing the tires.
"One of the things we've looked at and discovered already is that if we change the tires on the ladder we will be able to drop the height of the ladder truck down by almost 2 inches," Mansfield said. "So there's things like that that we can do that will allow us to hopefully drop it down to the height requirement that we need it to be."
He said it is premature to make assumptions with regards to the manufacturing of the truck, and where things might have gone awry.
"I am not going to pass judgement on this until such time we have all the answers from the engineers and we have all the answers to the questions that we have," he said.
With training on the new truck not scheduled until late July, Mansfield said there were no plans from the department to put the truck in service until later in the summer.
The Horn Bridge hovers over a major intersection in town, located just 1.4 miles from the central fire station at 32 North Main St., where the truck will be housed. Flanagan said this is not the initial time town vehicles have not fit under the bridge.
He said the height has not presented any other issues, and the truck comfortably fits in the station with plenty of surrounding room.
Representatives from Pierce could not be reached for comment.