Innovative Rigs on the Street: Hollywood's Tractor-Drawn Ladder

Like a great movie screenplay that deserves a sequel, this month we are going to return to visit with the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department in Saint Mary's County, MD to review their 2009 Pierce tractor drawn ladder truck. While our first two featured...


Like a great movie screenplay that deserves a sequel, this month we are going to return to visit with the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department in Saint Mary's County, MD to review their 2009 Pierce tractor drawn ladder truck. While our first two featured apparatus covered in the "Innovative Apparatus on the Street" series were engine company units, we should devote some equal time to a well-designed ladder company apparatus.

While the Hollywood Fire Department is a relatively young organization having been formed in 1957, the department only recently began to provide truck company service to their first-due area. How they acquired their first ladder truck and trained to provide this important service is unique and provided the basis for their experience to develop the design for their new tractor-drawn ladder truck. During 2004 the department began to plan for the acquisition of a used ladder truck to determine the feasibility to provide truck company service from their station that historically had provided engine company and rescue squad capabilities. A used tractor-drawn ladder truck was purchased from Arlington County, VA, for the members to train on for the first few months.

This apparatus was a 1974 Hahn trailer equipped with a 100-foot Grove aerial ladder that had been completely rebuilt by Ladder Towers Incorporated during 1991. The original Hahn tractor had been replaced with a Simon Duplex Olympian four-door cab unit with the trailer compartments and aerial hydraulic system overhauled and enhanced to current product design. As Arlington County was moving to rear-mount aerial devices, the tractor-drawn ladder became surplus and was modified by department members to suit the operations in Hollywood. After extensive training, supplied by the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, Truck 7 was placed into service in early 2005.

As a result of numerous working fires and constant in-service training department members quickly became acclimated to ladder company work and during 2008 began to develop specifications for a new tractor-drawn aerial. The result was a new Pierce Arrow XT 100-foot tiller ladder that was delivered to the department in August of 2009. The apparatus was designed by the department's apparatus committee which was headed by Assistant Chief Doug Insley.

Truck 7 carries an impressive array of hand tools, saws, power tools and most importantly ground ladders. The apparatus is powered by a Cummins ISM engine rated at 500-horsepower through an Allison EVS-4000 transmission. The tractor is built on a 149-inch wheelbase with an overall vehicle length of 59 feet, three inches. The aluminum cab has seating for six personnel and is protected by a steel reinforced front bumper which provides a mounting area for two New York roof hooks. Each of the four cab doors on the tractor are provided with polished stainless steel scuff plates at the door frames as well as inside of each door to protect the paint from damage when entering or exiting the cab.

Warning Lights and Safety Features

Warning lights consist of a Whelen 88-inch wide LED light bar on the cab roof as well as side facing LED light bars that are mounted to each side of the air conditioner housing. Forward-facing cab warning lights include Whelen LED lights in bezels above the headlamps together with twin pedestal Mars lights and a roto ray light mounted below the windshield. LED strip lights are mounted in the rub rails down each side of the trailer to provide protection together with cornering lights mounted at the rear wheel well panel to assist the tillerman when maneuvering the trailer at night time.

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