Earlier this year, SVFD took delivery of Ladder 10, a replacement for the current aerial ladder truck at our Greenacres Fire Station #10. The new Ladder 10 is a 100ft. “tractor drawn aerial” ladder that bends (articulates) much like a fifth wheel trailer would. You may have seen it driving around town as our firefighters practice driver training.
The new ladder truck was placed into service on November 5, 2017
At our April 2017 Open House event at Greenacres Station #10, we fielded many questions about the new truck as hundreds of children and adults admired its size and equipment. Probably the most common question asked was “why do you need such a big ladder truck for the Spokane Valley – we don’t really have many high rise buildings, do we”?
While most citizens believe that these aerial devices are specifically for high rise fires, they actually serve many other functions in addition to their ability to reach buildings that are 60 or 70 feet high. When SVFD established our priorities for a new aerial ladder truck they were based upon three important criteria: compartment space, reach and maneuverability. In each of these areas the articulating aerial ladder outperforms a “straight chassis” ladder truck of the same size.
Extra compartment space is needed by ladder companies as they are tasked with “specialized” functions at fire and emergency scenes. Equipment to support their mission of search, ventilation, forcible entry, rapid intervention, auto disentanglement/extrication, special operations such as swift water and technical rescue, and more. This type of apparatus can have up to four times the amount of compartment space as compared to a standard straight chassis ladder truck of the same length which allows SVFD to carry all the necessary equipment to perform these missions with a high level of mastery.
The need for reach and access to building rooftops and windows is important regardless of whether the structure is two stories or seven. While the greater Valley doesn’t have many buildings over six stories, it does have many buildings that are at least two stories tall. Aerial access to these roofs and windows allow for fast and safe operations by our firefighters which ultimately results in more life and property saved in a fire.
These type of apparatus are the most maneuverable of all aerial ladder devices which is very important in areas that have narrow streets or tight access for large vehicles. Because the apparatus articulates, it can access areas that no other aerial device would be able to reach. Operationally this is a big advantage for our crews as they have greater and closer access to their tools, safety equipment and more reach with their ladder to effect rescues from upper floor windows and roofs along with roof ventilation operations.
Lastly, with the vehicle weight restrictions that are in place here in Washington State, it is becoming very difficult to purchase a ladder truck of sufficient size and water carrying capability and still be “legal” to drive on our roadways without being over the maximum weight allowed. An articulating aerial device is approximately 15,000 pounds lighter than a normal straight chassis ladder of the same length. With the additional axel on this truck, the weight is more evenly dispersed making it easier for our vehicles to stay within the weight limits.
I hope this brief introduction into the reasons “why” SVFD needs such a large ladder truck has been informative and I assure you that this apparatus will serve our communities very well over the next 20 years!
Thank you for your continued support!
~ Fire Chief Bryan Collins