“SPEECHLESS.”

That’s what Nashua Fire Chief Brian Rhodes said to me when he learned about Manchester Fire Dept.’s Ladder 1 and Engine 11 rushing to a porch fire and colliding with a Ford F-150 pickup truck at the intersection of Maple and Bridge streets on Feb. 21.

Luckily, no one was seriously hurt in the crash that sent eight firefighters and the pickup driver to the hospital. But the damage to the fire trucks was massive and could end up costing Manchester about $1.7 million to replace them.

Like the Queen City, we have a very active fire department, answering some 34,000 calls for service yearly. Up to 14,000 of those calls involve emergency situations.

“Nashua’s not that sleepy little town anymore,” Rhodes says, and he’s right.

Traffic is busy in the Gate City all hours of the day and night and can be challenging for emergency responders to get around.

We, too, have a good track record, but tragedy can occur. A Nashua fire truck was involved in a deadly crash in the 1980s near the 7-Eleven at the Amherst Street jughandle, where the female occupant of a car was killed.

Rhodes tells me that firefighters receive driver training every year, and when you think about the sheer weight and volume of fire apparatus, it’s a very robust vehicle as he describes it, typically weighing about 30 tons and measuring about 35 feet long.

Rhodes tells me that his department features six fire engines, three ladder trucks and two spare engines and a spare ladder truck.

But the second-largest city in the state still needs to be ready for the future.

“We have not expanded our operational footprint since 1977,” Rhodes says, and the department is undergoing an evaluation that will “give us a road map for the next 10 years.”

Emergency Services Consulting International is gathering data concerning the fire department’s capabilities, limitations, support programs and services.

Ideally, Rhodes says the city could use another fire station in its northwest and southwest quadrant, but like many communities, Nashua’s landscape is feeling the squeeze on available property.

On March 1, Chief Rhodes celebrated his 34th year as a firefighter; he has been at the helm of Nashua Fire Rescue for two years as of April.

“It’s very rewarding, and I feel very blessed,” he said.

The men and women who wear the uniform are doing a fine job. We sometimes forget that our firefighters do more than courageously rush in to save people and property.

Like Manchester, Nashua firefighters continue to operate Safe Stations and have assisted a tremendous number of people seeking treatment for addiction.

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at jtania512@gmail.com.