Five Tanker Trucks Helped Put Out Bourne Landfill Fire

When fire broke out inside a building at the town landfill off MacArthur Boulevard late last month, fire departments from around the Cape joined the Bourne Fire Department in putting out the blaze. Among the pieces of equipment brought in to help with firefighting efforts was a tanker truck from the fire department in Truro. The tanker hauled thousand gallons of water, several times, from a hydrant on the other side of MacArthur Boulevard back to the landfill to help douse the flames.

The truck from Truro was one of five tankers used that night because the volume of water from the single hydrant deployed at the landfill did not provide enough water on its own to extinguish the fire. Bourne Fire Chief Martin Greene said that the five trucks used that night each carried from 1,500 to 3,000 gallons of water at a time. Each truck made four to five trips, which involved going from the landfill up to the Bourne Bridge Rotary, circling around the rotary to MacArthur Boulevard south, going past the Nickerson-Bourne Funeral Home to an abandoned building where heavy equipment used to be sold. The trucks loaded up with water at a hydrant there, and then went back down MacArthur Boulevard to the cut through where they returned to the landfill with their load of water.

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Chief Greene said that the circuitous route followed by firefighters that night to get water into the landfill was not out of the ordinary. In fact, there are a number of other areas in town where firefighters would have to truck in water to battle a blaze like the one at the landfill, he said. The chief specifically mentioned Academy Drive in Taylor’s Point, Wing’s Neck and Mashnee Island, as well as a number of dead end streets throughout town.

“It is something we deal with from time to time,” he said.

The issue, in part, has to do with the type of hydrant that was installed when the landfill was created. The chief described it as a “dead-ended” hydrant because water flows from just one direction, which cuts down on the volume.

“That’s why we needed five of them, to keep up with the volume,” he said.

A hydrant on a corner of Main Street in Buzzards Bay, he said, pulls water from three areas, increasing the volume. With the lesser volume coming from the dead-ended hydrant at ISWM, there was a need to truck in water from another source that night, he said.

“Frankly, it’s an engineering issue when they designed the systems,” he said

The chief suggested there were a multitude of factors that required the use of tankers that night, but he reiterated that there are many areas in town where the fire department would follow the same procedure.

“We do the same at the end of Wing’s Neck. Tobey Island is another example,” he said.

ISWM general manager Daniel T. Barrett echoed Chief Greene’s assessment that ISWM is similar to other areas in town that would need to have water trucked in from an outside source.

“We’re kind of remote, there’s not a lot of development around here,” he said.

Mr. Barrett added that between the sprinkler system inside the building, the hydrant firefighters hooked up to, and the response of the firefighters, he was satisfied with how things turned out.

“From my perspective everything worked. The firefighters did a great job, and there was minimal damage done,” he said.

Andrew G. Campbell, Bourne Water District superintendent, said that 230,000 to 250,000 gallons of water were used fighting the fire at the landfill. Mr. Campbell said that the water district has four water tanks situated around Bourne. There are two in South Sagamore, one at the Bourne Bridge Rotary, and one at Joint Base Cape Cod. The night of the fire, the tanks were nearly full, holding in excess of 3.8 million gallons of water, he said. The hydrant at the landfill is connected to the water main on MacArthur Boulevard which is fed by the water tanks. He said that the water supply would have been more than adequate to drown the fire. Given the dead-ended hydrant that firefighters hooked up to at the landfill, the use of tanker trucks was “precautionary for the possibility of a potential flare-up,” he said.
Mr. Campbell agreed with Mr. Barrett that given the sequence of events that night, the alarm and sprinkler systems going off inside the building, as well as the immediate response by firefighters, “everything worked as it was supposed to.”

“It was a win-win situation for everyone,” he said.

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