Boston, MA Local 718 members are responding to fires around the city with stronger, heat-resistant hoses on their fire apparatus thanks to a $45,000 donation from the Last Call Foundation.
“These hoses will save not just the lives of fire fighters, but the lives of civilians for years to come,” said General President Edward Kelly. “That’s all thanks to Kathy Crosby-Bell and the Last Call Foundation.”
Crosby-Bell founded the Last Call Foundation after her son, Local 718 member Michael Kennedy and fellow fire fighter Lt. Edward Walsh died in a wind-driven, nine-alarm March 2014 fire. The two became trapped in the building’s basement as the blaze worsened. They called for water but did not receive any. It was later learned that their hoseline had burned in half.
Crosby-Bell, by asking questions and conducting her own research, found that national standards do not require hose manufacturers to test until failure during thermal testing, and most hoses on the market fail within 2-3 minutes.
“I was shocked and appalled that the hoses fire fighters use to respond to calls with every day fail that quickly,” she said. “I knew the Last Call Foundation’s next move would be to fund research to find a hose material that could take the heat.”
While they successfully found material that could withstand thermal testing, they also needed a liner that would holdup. That’s when a representative from Snap-tite called the foundation, claiming the manufacturer had found a solution.
Independent testing found that Snap-tite’s hose could withstand heat for up to 15 minutes before failure.
Crosby-Bell and the foundation’s board were impressed. Snap-tite representatives said they could do better. They returned with a hose that would last up to 50 minutes and pass all the tests required by national standards.
“The hose is significantly more expensive than fire departments typically use, but it’s worth the price,” said Crosby-Bell. “Imagine how many lives will be saved.”
The foundation worked with the Boston Fire Department to organize the $45,000 donation and the purchase of the hoses. Each fire apparatus now has 100 feet of Snap-tite hoses.
“Not doing everything we can to protect property and preserve life is not an option for us,” Local 718 President Sam Dillon said at a news conference. “This city allows us to serve. It’s incumbent on this city, it’s incumbent on us, to do everything we can to protect the men and women who proudly protect the city [of Boston].”
The Last Call Foundation provides funds for various unfunded needs, research, and education benefiting fire fighters. The organization funded the independent Graham Peaslee, Ph.D. study that found PFAS “forever chemicals” present in turnout gear and, in 2020, awarded a two-year grant for a fire fighter-specific cancer awareness program.
“Had these hoses been in place in 2014 – had Michael and Eddie had water in that basement – it would have been a different story, it would have been a different fire,” said Kelly. “As happens in the wake of tragedy, the grief and pain in those left behind can be turned into the winds of change. Kathy Crosby and the Last Call Foundation have changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of fire fighters through all their ongoing efforts.”