The Apparatus Architect

Part 43 At the scene of a fire in a three-story, wood-frame dwelling, the engine company is making a push into the attic to cut off the fire extension into this area. For some unknown reason, the attack line goes limp and the engine crew is without...


Part 43 At the scene of a fire in a three-story, wood-frame dwelling, the engine company is making a push into the attic to cut off the fire extension into this area. For some unknown reason, the attack line goes limp and the engine crew is without water. Due to the high heat, the firefighters...


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  1. It was difficult for the quint apparatus to lay a supply line around several corners without having problems with vehicles and other obstacles. In addition, positioning the unit for use of the aerial ladder offers trade-offs with positioning the unit to operate as an engine company and would ultimately block access for the first-due ladder company.
  2. The 75-foot aerial device, while sufficient for single-family dwellings and other structures where the unit can be positioned within 25 to 30 feet from the curb line, was inadequate for buildings with greater setbacks and green space around the property.
  3. While the quint carried 115 feet of ground ladders, this was inadequate to cover all four sides and elevations of the structure.

As a result of this training exercise, the fire department changed the running order for its apparatus and assigned an engine as the first-due unit and had the mutual aid ladder company respond on the initial alarm as the first-due ladder apparatus. This rear-mounted, 100-foot aerial tower carried additional ground ladders and had sufficient horizontal reach to provide adequate scrub area on the building. (Scrub area is defined as that area of the building that can be touched by the basket of a tower ladder or the tip of an aerial device.) Also, you must determine the operational footprint of the apparatus; i.e., how much real estate is going to be needed to properly position and set up the apparatus.

The next installment of "The Apparatus Architect" will discuss the various types of aerial devices and how ground ladder banking can impact the overall design of the apparatus. We will also highlight several fire departments and their ground ladder capabilities on their apparatus.

TOM SHAND, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a 36-year veteran of the fire service and works with Michael Wilbur at Emergency Vehicle Response, consulting on a variety of fire apparatus and fire department master-planning issues. MICHAEL WILBUR, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department, assigned to Ladder Company 27 in the Bronx, and has served on the FDNY Apparatus Purchasing Committee. He consults on a variety of apparatus-related issues around the country. For further information, access his website at www.emergencyvehicleresponse.com.

MINIMUM STAFFING FOR A 2½-STORY WOOD-FRAME HOME
Water supply 1 firefighter
Pump operator 1 firefighter
Three handlines 9 firefighters
Forcible entry/search 2 firefighters
Ventilation 2 firefighters
Command sides 1 and 3 2 firefighters
Rapid intervention team 3 firefighters
Bare minimum staffing 20 firefighters