Designing Ladder Company Apparatus

Tom Shand and Michael Wilbur advise seeking the expertise of an apparatus architect for the first-time aerial apparatus purchaser.


In the last installment of The Apparatus Architect (October 2003), we discussed the importance of planning and evaluation in the process of developing specifications for the purchase of a new ladder company apparatus. While we might possess the technical experience to develop specifications for a...


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One of the perceived drawbacks of rear-mount aerial devices is that when positioning the rig, you can lose the length of the vehicle when placing the truck in the front of the fire building due to the turntable being at the rear of the truck. This can be overcome by positioning the center of the turntable with the middle of the objective that you are trying to reach. This will allow for the maximum scrub area on the front of the building, without having the truck block critical access for other incoming units. There are significant operational and placement considerations between the midship- and rear-mounted aerial devices and the truck committee should carefully review these before setting out to develop the specifications for your new truck. If the operational considerations between midship and rear-mounted aerial devices are not fully understood, there are training classes available that can help educate your truck committee on the significant differences that exist.

In the next installment of The Apparatus Architect we will discuss aerial ladder truck design considerations that you may wish to include in your specifications. Knowledge of the components and how they relate to the overall design will help you in developing a comprehensive set of specifications for your next ladder company apparatus.


Tom Shand is a firefighter with the Newton-Abbott Volunteer Fire Department in the Town of Hamburg, NY, and a senior instructor at the Onondaga County Community College Public Safety Training Center. He is employed by American LaFrance and is assigned to the Hamburg Facility in the apparatus sales department. 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 for the past five years on the FDNY Apparatus Purchasing Committee. He has consulted on a variety of apparatus related issues throughout the country. For further information access his website at www.emergencyvehicleresponse.com.