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Boston Fire Department pulls second truck with brake problems

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Boston Fire Department pulls second truck with brake problems

The first Boston Fire ladder truck to undergo mandatory inspections in the wake of a crash that killed a firefighter last week had a problem with its brakes and was taken out of service on Monday.

Mechanics discovered a linkage problem in Ladder 14’s brakes, and the problem was expected to be repaired by Tuesday night, said Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald. The problem was with the system that ensures brakes on all four wheels are activated at the same time, not with the brakes themselves, he said.

MacDonald said the only other truck examined on Monday passed inspection.

“We’ll start again tomorrow morning. This is probably going to take a couple of weeks to go through the entire fleet,” he said.

Officials were trying to find a second shop to assist in the inspections to speed up the process of checking out the fire department’s fleet of 22 ladder trucks, 33 engines and two rescue units, MacDonald said.

Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser ordered a brake system inspection on the city’s fire trucks after a ladder truck careened down a steep hill last Friday and crashed into an apartment building. Lt. Kevin Kelley, who was in the passenger seat, died instantly and three other firefighters were injured.

Investigators believe brake failure may have caused the crash.

The truck pulled out of service Monday is the same type and make as the truck involved in last Friday’s crash, MacDonald said.

The Boston Firefighters Union has blamed the crash on department failure to replace aging trucks. The truck that crashed was a 1995 model. The truck that failed the inspection Monday is a 1993 model.

A ladder truck also crashed into a parked car outside fire department headquarters Sunday morning. No one was injured in that accident or in a Jan. 1 incident, when the driver of another ladder truck lost control and crashed into a fence.

Edward Kelly, president of Local 718, said he did not know what caused the crashes but is concerned about their frequency.

The union has asked Gov. Deval Patrick to order a state inspection. Patrick said Monday he is prepared to work with city leaders to make sure the firefighters have the resources they need.

“We are here to help in any way that we can,” he said. “Obviously we share an interest as everyone does in the safety of the firefighters and the adequacy of the equipment.”

 Patrick OKs bill toughening animal fighting laws

Massachusetts’ animal anti-cruelty laws are being updated for the Internet age.

Under a bill signed by Gov. Deval Patrick, anyone who creates images or movies of animal fights and posts them on the Web now faces a fine of up to $500 or a year in prison. The penalties extend to anyone who buys or rents the images.

Anyone found selling the images faces a $1,000 fine or two years in prison.

The law also toughens the state’s existing penalties for those who sponsor or attend animal fights. Those penalties jump from $250 and a month in prison to a $1,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

Animal advocates say the new law will not only help police crack down on those who sponsor the fights, but also those who pay to attend.

Education cuts could delay start of key programs

State education leaders say potential budget cuts are forcing them to consider delaying two costly new initiatives.

Leaders told the Boston Globe anticipated cuts in state aid could force them to postpone making the 10th-grade Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) history exam a graduation requirement.

The cuts could also slow the opening of new charter schools.

Both were key elements of the state’s landmark 1993 Education Reform Act, but require more spending at a time when the state is looking at shrinking revenues.

A new MCAS test would force districts to spend money on teacher training and updating curriculums while opening new charter schools would siphon away thousands in state education aid from local districts for each student.

Treasurer Cahill rejects automatic pay raise

Add state Treasurer Timothy Cahill to the list of state officials turning down a prospective pay raise.

A spokeswoman said last Friday that the Quincy Democrat and potential 2010 gubernatorial candidate was joining Gov. Deval Patrick and Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray in rejecting the 5.5 percent salary hike.

Both of them cited the state’s deteriorating financial situation, including a potential $2.1 billion budget deficit and the prospect of state aid payments to cities and towns.

Voters approved an automated pay-review program in 1998 that linked future pay hikes to the fate of the state’s median household income.

Cahill currently is paid $131,000 annually. He would have received a $7,200 raise.

State Rep. John Fresolo of Worcester also asked Cahill last Friday not to include the raise in his paycheck.

Audit reveals $7.5M deficit at Springfield schools

SPRINGFIELD — An independent audit has found that Springfield’s public schools failed to follow through on plans to save $2 million by eliminating 40 buses from the fleet.

The Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials, a nonprofit professional organization of school administrators, conducted the audit at the request of Superintendent Alan Ingram.

The audit found numerous problems that will produce a $7.5 million deficit. The problems are blamed on a flawed bid process, poor communication and failure to monitor cost-sharing agreements with other districts.

Ingram told the School Committee last Thursday that the problems are the result of “an inexcusable failure by the school district” that will lead to cost-cutting measures.

(Associated Press)