Up, Up And OK

This has been a test of the emergency high-rise system.

The City of Warren Fire Department’s tower ladder truck is fully operational.

The department runs recommended testing on the truck every week.

Monday morning, Firefighter Shawn Jones manned the turntable at the base of the ladder while Lt. Andy Moore went up in the bucket. The controls for the ladder are available at both locations. “You can operate all of the functions from the turntable at the base,” Moore said.

Or someone at the top can run it. “If you are getting in close proximity … you want to have somebody in the tip. It’s a better vantage point,” he said. Crashing the tower into a building is not a good idea. “You can do a lot of damage to it or to a structure,” he added.

“The ladder gets fully extended to its 102-foot (height), we do a complete 360-degree rotation, we check all the fluids and the electrical system,” Moore said.

A test of the outriggers that can lift the 78,000-pound truck off the ground is also part of the check.

The outriggers extend from the sides of the truck at the middle and rear to keep the vehicle from tipping over when the ladder is extended to one side.

The maximum height of the tower is just right for operations in Warren.

“We are able to reach all the occupied space in all the buildings… to use it as it is intended,” Moore said. “We cannot get to the roof of the flat iron building, but we can get to the top occupied floor.”

The height of the structure is not the problem. A much more common problem is overhead obstacles like trees and utility lines. “There are some buildings that we have limited access to,” Moore said.

The bucket can hold up to four people, although the department generally stations one or two firefighters there during a blaze. The tower serves as an excellent rescue platform for bringing people out of danger in high places.

“That’s the cat’s meow in terms of moving them,” Moore said. Instead of carrying a victim down a ladder, a firefighter can walk them into the basket and they can be lowered to the ground.

In fact, the bucket can reach slightly below the level of the bottom of the truck, if needed, and lift up to 500 pounds back up.

The truck carries an assortment of equipment including ground ladders, chainsaws, breathing apparatus, and materials for putting out chimney fires and is kept active. “It runs on all of our structure fires,” Moore said. “It’s available for mutual aid throughout the county.”