A Boston firefighter was shocked and nearly electrocuted on October 24 during a 4-alarm fire after an aerial ladder set down on contact with a life electrical wire.

FirefighterCloseCalls reported that Boston Fire Department Ladder 26 set down on contact with a high-voltage electrical wire with 2,800 volts running through it. A firefighter and fire officer climbed to the roof without noticing the ladder was touching the wire.

Firefighters eventually noticed the hazard. The department said that the chief in command of the fire was about to signal over the radio for firefighters to avoid Ladder 26’s ladder, but not before the firefighter and officer started to climb down. The firefighter got on the ladder without incident, but a current started to arc to the ladder. When the officer placed his hand on the ladder, he was shocked.

The officer told his colleagues that he felt a charge pass through his arm. He was able to go down another ladder under his own power and was taken to an area hospital for evaluation. He was “doing fine” afterward, firefighters said.

But Ladder 26 was not fine. The aluminum of the ladder melted in two spots where it came in contact with the fire and roofing. The truck was taken out of service.

This Ladder 26 is a brand new truck, but the last Ladder 26 suffered catastrophic brake failure in January 2009 when it careened down Parker Hill Avenue and crashed into a building killing Lieutenant Kevin Kelley.

Since then, the replacement Ladder 26 and its crew were victimized on Halloween when a firefighter’s helmet was stolen from inside the truck at 8:45 p.m. Boston Police are investigating the theft.

In an additional stroke of luck for the department, the arcing wire that shocked the officer broke in half. One piece landed steps from the command post where firefighters and the chief were standing, and another landed 20-feet from the rear entrance of the fire building. No one else was injured.

Things almost turned deadly again. A half hour later, an NSTAR worker arrived to kill the power, FirefighterCloseCalls reported. The worker was on scene for 20 minutes when he notified the chief that the wire was finally dead.

It wasn’t.

The chief questioned the NSTAR worker twice to make sure the wire was dead, but firefighters pointed out that the wire was sitting in a large puddle of water, from which smoke was pouring out, the site reported.

The NSTAR worker recanted, saying that the line was actually still live. He eventually killed all power around the building and no one else was hurt.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

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