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The writer is a 29-year veteran with Ocala Fire Rescue, currently serving as the department’s public information officer and public education officer.
“Truck Vs. Ladder”
Fire service semantics and definitions keep life from getting boring between alarms. This is in response to “Truck Vs. Ladder,” a forum question posed on Firehouse.com and cited in “This Month on Firehouse.com” in the August issue, in which “Auxman” asks: “Is whether a vehicle a ‘truck’ or a ‘ladder’ up to the individual fire department or are there some official guidelines on this? I’ve seen pretty much the same vehicle with the same equipment referred to both ways. Where do quints fit into this?”
With 47 years in the fire service, I’ve encountered a number of “truck company or aerial ladder” references to toss into the discussion. Let me list a few: hook-and-ladder company, ladder company, serial ladder company, service ladder company, tower ladder, platform, Snorkel, quint and “stick.”
The strangest was an apparatus without a turntable or aerial ladder. It had a 500-gallon water tank, HP pump and two reels with booster lines. From the rear, it stored a 5-foot Bangor ladder with poles, a 35-foot extension ladder, a 24-foot extension ladder, two 16-foot straight “wall” ladders, two roof ladders with hooks, an attic ladder and a step ladder. While it was more of a “squad truck,” it was called “Ladder 1.”
With all the quints and platforms (baskets) in the mix, maybe the best thing to do is use the more generic term “aerial” for anything with an extended reach. But then we’d have to find something else to debate. Next, it’ll be “water tower” vs. “tele-squirt”! This keeps “the job” interesting between calls.
Michael R. Hargreaves Sr.
Union-Lakeville Fire Territory
Firehouse.com Editor-in-Chief Peter Matthews responds: This question, posed by a member of the Firehouse.com Forums, sparked more than 40 responses that show the designation is made by each department and can go from 10 Truck in one district to Ladder 10 in the next district. One user remarked that it is related to the National Incident Management System (NIMS); another said it is based on the department’s tradition. View the thread and share how you name your aerial ladder apparatus at http://bit.ly/pMdD0Z.