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  1. #1
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    Default Ladder Tenders: Are they really worth it?

    OK, I'm stumped and I'm hoping someone here can rationalize the Phoenix Ladder Tender concept. Reading this months Apparatus Ideas in Fire Apparatus an Emergency Equipment, the author notes that the cost of the equipped ladder tender is around half that of the actual ladder truck. The rough idea is that sending a ladder to EMS calls was very expensive and less expeditious. The latter I can understand, but cheaper...

    If a LT costs $425,000 which per the article is about half the cost of the ladder, does it effectually extend the life of the ladder truck by half? Do they now keep ladders 15 years instead of 10? Maybe 9 years instead of 6 in Phoenix? This doesn't even account for the need for another bay space, more routine maintenance and the extended time the crew is out of service as a ladder Co?

    There seems there must be more sensible thought on this, but it has eluded me for years and this article raised the question? Anyone have an idea what makes this concept actually worthwhile?


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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    Anyone have an idea what makes this concept actually worthwhile?
    Like most of the ideas out of Phoenix, it isn't worthwhile.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    whilie we do not have ladder tenders. We have a something similar, with quint, FRVs (First Response Vehical) and Engines. My Station has an FRV.

    Part of the total quint concept that we run in our city. Is that each quint company has two apparatus. One of them is obviously a quint (they are a mix of 105ft and 75 ft). Then 8 companies have a regular Class A pumper (1995ish seagraves). The other 12 companies run what we call an FRV (First response vehical). These are frieghtliner chassis with a rescue style body on them. They have a 500 GPM pump on them that supply 2 1 3/4 preconnects and a trash/bumper line. They also carry 500' of 2.5 and a 1000' of 4''. Equipment wise we carry EMS supplies. Various small hand tools and a six ft pike. Ladder wise we carry a 3 fly 28' ext ladder and an attic ladder. A combi tool with a small amount of cribbing. Engines have basicly the same thing except the obvious 1500 GPM pump and different hose compliments and ladders.

    Response model is that we respond with the FRV to EMS calls (BLS 1st response), MVCs, car fires and, other non-structure related calls. The companies that have a class A pumper respond with their pumpers on these type calls instead of an FRV. Whilie the company is in quarters we switch between the quint and the FRV. When out in the district we respond with what we are on regardless of the call type.


    As far as concept on paper verses the real world. It does not always go as smooth. problems are.
    1) Having to switch gear from one truck to another slows the companies turn out time and a man runs the chance of forgeting to grab everything. (firefigther forgets helmet, mask, coat stuff like that. it happens!)
    2) A box alarm here is 4 quint companies and a rescue. We have had on occasions where everyone shows up on an engine or FRV, No "truck" on scene. Also this raises the problem of all your companies could be on FRVs which only have 500gpm pumps. Happens more often then you would think.
    3) when arriving first due you are the engine company. With a 500 GPM pump you either have a choice of 2 1 3/4s or a 2.5. Other attack lines have to come off of another company.
    4) You cannot supply FDC's with a 500 GPM pump. 3rd due companies role.
    5) If you arrive 2nd on a fire you are the truck company. If you are on an engine or FRV everything has to come off of one of the quints onscene. not you tools or ladders!
    6) when the quint goes out of service you run only the FRV or engine. increases your chances of the above problems

    Pro's
    1) They FRV's and engines can get to places that are impossible to get to with the quint.
    2) They are easier to drive and manuver the tight urban streets and traffic
    3) They can go across many of the low weight limit bridges we have. We have an Island in the midddle of the city. not inhabited offically
    4) They are "quicker" then the quints. not in top end but pick up and turning radius.


    Personal observation
    1) the FRV are less comfortable to ride in and harder to get in and our of then the custom cabs (not that big of a thing until you spend 10 calls a day in it)


    My personal opinon is that the concept is not the greatest. I subjectivly cannot see a decrease in wear and tear on the quints. (I do not have the ablity to see the numbers to give you a objective opinon). Operational they cause many challenges on the fireground. They are nice for the BS calls like car fires, trash fires and, EMS because of the nimbleness of them. Also nice for non emergency hydrant maintance, etc. However the problem always comes up what happens when you are out on the FRV and a fire comes in. Extrication is a non issue because they have the same as the quint and most of the extrication is done by the rescue company. Objectivly speaking we are on our 2nd quint in 12 years at my station combined we have put about 180,000 miles on the two quints and about 40,000 miles on the one FRV in that same time span. Budget and money wise i could not tell you if it has saved money or cost money. That is way above my pay grade. I can only give you an opinon based on the "street". These are just my observations based on riding backwards.


    I know that my response was kind of lengthy and not a direct answer to the concept as a ladder tender. However it is the closest knowledge that i have. I guess it would be a "quint tender" concept.

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    I would say that since they have been utilizing them for several years now, and continue to use them, the Phoenix Fire Department must find them effective.

    It would be interesting to see specific data, especially in terms of maintenance, but as I understand it, the ladder/truck company is still in service, but with a partial crew as the ladder tender only responds with a portion of the truck companies manpower.

    Actually FWD, a number of very progressive and excellent ideas have come out of the PFD. I look at thier operations quite often when designing solutions to issues here.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 02-20-2010 at 11:41 PM.

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    here is phoenix's SOP on their response: it might help. I had never heard of it until reading your post. learn something new everyday. not that i agree with it. however no the less intreasting to hear how others do it.

    http://phoenix.gov/FIRE/20510.pdf

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    Ive heard of this from Phoenix and other cities around there. Seems odd to me. Seems like you are buying an expensive piece of equipment and wasting money on your ladder truck which will sit idle on many calls because you are out in the tender. Id be interested to hear why its OK for a ladder to this for ladder companies but not engines. After all couldn't all the benefits it has for a ladder be the same for an engine? sounds like progressive thinking run amok.


    Also an observation from a northerner, a lot of the hard use our trucks get I dont see happening down were these ladder tenders are popular. There aren't 4-5 months of salted roads and the roads seem smoother because of the absence of freeze/thaw cycles(the second part is just a personal opinion from traveling about the south).
    Last edited by nameless; 02-21-2010 at 01:22 AM.

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    Everyone thinks what works for someone else has to work for them too or its a bad idea.

    Phoenix's primary issue is the sprawl of their city. It is very spread out from what I understand, so rigs are simply worn out from high mileage.

    If you factor in that the rig is $425,000 EQUIPPED you're probably substantially less for just the chassis and body. There is no reason to think that the equipment on the old ladder tender can't be swapped to the new one. Let's be honest, I bet they're getting the apparatus itself under $300,000.

    Tie in the tower ladder or ladder running well into the $700,000 range at a minimum, and it makes sense to me. I'd rather keep my aerial for 20 years and buy two tenders. And being able to stop putting all of my maintenance budget into keeping heavy and complicated units running because the sh&t is being kicked out of them because Homeless Hank has toe pain, when the delivery truck chassis with a gloried beverage body can handle 95% of the runs.

    I live by a fairly busy city station that runs their 105' quint on everything in the still district. They're beating it to death, and on 95% of the runs it responds on the pump and aerial are not necessary...
    "Share your knowledge - it's a way to achieve immortality." - Stolen from Chase Sargent's Buddy to Boss program

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Actually FWD, a number of very progressive and excellent ideas have come out of the PFD. I look at thier operations quite often when designing solutions to issues here.
    God why am I not surprised. You probably have a Hawiian shirt in your closet, too.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  9. #9
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    If it's a medical call :::::
    Why not just send an AMBULANCE

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    Quote Originally Posted by islandfire03 View Post
    If it's a medical call :::::
    Why not just send an AMBULANCE
    DING DING DING DING DING DING DING DING

    "Because Ambulances just aren't cool enough to be seen on..."

    We have a "Rescue-Engine" tender... in fact, we have 2 of them. They're called Ambulances, and they greatly save the wear and tear on the suppression pieces. Did you know that the 2 man crew and their ambulance is also able to pick up dinner for the station as well? True Story, the fire truck actually sat in the building while the ambulance crew did it all by themselves!
    FTM-PTB DTRT

    Everything I state on here is to support and aid my fellow firefighters. Everything I post is my opinion only, and in no way should be taken as an official opinion of any Company, Department, or Municipality I represent... oh and this includes Pierce Mfg, as so their legal department has advised me; since they apparently also invented the right to control "Free Speech".

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by islandfire03 View Post
    If it's a medical call :::::
    Why not just send an AMBULANCE
    Quote Originally Posted by laddertruckgoes View Post

    "Because Ambulances just aren't cool enough to be seen on..."

    We have a "Rescue-Engine" tender... in fact, we have 2 of them. They're called Ambulances, and they greatly save the wear and tear on the suppression pieces. Did you know that the 2 man crew and their ambulance is also able to pick up dinner for the station as well? True Story, the fire truck actually sat in the building while the ambulance crew did it all by themselves!

    You know, it sounds like a great solution when you just use a simple, two or three word response, without any true thought put into it. The fact is though, that having a full service emergency agency, that is cost efficient and effective can not be solved with a couple of sentences.

    Itís kind of like the quint concept. RFD, I am not picking on your department, nor am I slamming them, but it is great to see some open and honest answers. On paper the total quint concept looks like a fabulous solution to budget issues. The truth is that it isnít as great as many would like it to seem.
    The same can be said about using ambulances for EMS, rather suppression companies.

    First, where is the staffing going to come from? Is it going to be from the suppression companies, meaning that an engine or truck company will now run with two less? Are they going to be added positions, thru either new hires or overtime? Where will they come from?

    Now, in order to save money, that staffing will probably come from those suppression companies, so fire companies will now be ineffective, handcuffed, and outright useless.
    We operate with traditional firefighting companies, meaning engine and truck companies, and they are used as EMS first response. All companies stay together for the entire time. This means that whatever the run is that comes in, the company takes it. The company stays intact and is efficient and effective. Of course though, we donít put pumps on rigs that have aerial devices on them.

    Companies operate effectively when they are properly staffed, and all personnel arrive together at the same time. Yes, fires are missed from time to time do to an EMS call. Fires are also missed due to CO, auto extrications, vehicle fires and other building fires occurring at the same time.
    There is no perfect system in place, and there will never be. We have no issues with the wrong rigs showing up, or missing gear from jumping from one rig to another, etcÖ Iím not bringing this up to slam anyone. Iím just pointing this out that just change for the sake of change isnít always good, or isnít always better.

    Maybe an ambulance would make it better on paper for an EMS run, but when we show up with two members on a truck company as a result, any positives have been lost. In fact, more harm has been done than good.

    True story; line firefighters on properly staffed fire companies save lives. That is indisputable.

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    God why am I not surprised. You probably have a Hawiian shirt in your closet, too.

    Actually, I have a couple. I love them. My wife doesn't. But I wear them anyway.

    And yes, I do look at the west coast for solutions much more than the east coast. Thier issues tend to match ours much more than the east.

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    Quote Originally Posted by npfd801 View Post
    Everyone thinks what works for someone else has to work for them too or its a bad idea.
    This is merely a discussion, as you can see this is a discussion board. If all our discussions were "well Phoenix likes this delivery model, so it must good." "I concur" x 10. Then there wouldn't be any meaningful discussions.

    Phoenix's primary issue is the sprawl of their city. It is very spread out from what I understand, so rigs are simply worn out from high mileage.

    If you factor in that the rig is $425,000 EQUIPPED you're probably substantially less for just the chassis and body. There is no reason to think that the equipment on the old ladder tender can't be swapped to the new one. Let's be honest, I bet they're getting the apparatus itself under $300,000.
    I think the question many of us have is they spend how much on a ladder truck? How often is that truck sitting unstaffed in the firehouse because it's crew is in the ladder tender? Maybe the tax payers wouldn't be happy their expensive specialized fire apparatus isn't able to respond to their fire because the crew is in the "glorified beverage body".


    Tie in the tower ladder or ladder running well into the $700,000 range at a minimum, and it makes sense to me. I'd rather keep my aerial for 20 years and buy two tenders. And being able to stop putting all of my maintenance budget into keeping heavy and complicated units running because the sh&t is being kicked out of them because Homeless Hank has toe pain, when the delivery truck chassis with a gloried beverage body can handle 95% of the runs.
    this can be handled with EMD coding, not sending the fire units on every ems call (but then that would mean we can't puff out our chests on how busy we are!) and sending to high priority coded calls.

    I live by a fairly busy city station that runs their 105' quint on everything in the still district. They're beating it to death, and on 95% of the runs it responds on the pump and aerial are not necessary...
    its a fire truck, they get run, they get beat up. If they don't like the amount of wear and tear maybe they should re-examine their running procedures instead of hamstringing fire protection to save a few miles on the ladder truck.
    Last edited by nameless; 02-21-2010 at 02:01 PM.

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    my thought is in a traditional engine truck concept. why are the trucks running that many ems calls that they are getting worn out by the ems calls. Why not send the engine company to the ems run and the truck only runs the 2nd ems calls for that area. Or go the old squad 51 route and and two guys to the company roster.

    jasper dont worry i am post the engine/truck to quint crossover. they were here before me. We make due with what we have.

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    my thought is in a traditional engine truck concept. why are the trucks running that many ems calls that they are getting worn out by the ems calls. Why not send the engine company to the ems run and the truck only runs the 2nd ems calls for that area. Or go the old squad 51 route and and two guys to the company roster.

    If you listen to thier live dispatch, it sounds like the engines are running the bulk of the EMS runs, but they need to truck companies to be able to make all the runs in the system.

    this can be handled with EMD coding, not sending the fire units on every ems call (but then that would mean we can't puff out our chests on how busy we are!) and sending to high priority coded calls.

    If you had asked me this question before i moved here 8 years ago, I probably would have agreed with you. Even 5 years ago, I probably would have ageed as well.

    Now I see the value of running a first response engine or truck on every single call. Fact is, many times what would have been a routine call turned out to be more serious than dispatched, and either required the first response capabilities of our department or the additional manpower we provide to the parish EMS (transport) agency.

    If you are going to run EMS ... Run every call with a first response suppression piece. 10 years ago, I thought I would never say that.

    I think the question many of us have is they spend how much on a ladder truck? How often is that truck sitting unstaffed in the firehouse because it's crew is in the ladder tender? Maybe the tax payers wouldn't be happy their expensive specialized fire apparatus isn't able to respond to their fire because the crew is in the "glorified beverage body".

    But why should it respond if it's capabilities are not needed and it doesn't have too? The more the ladder stays in quarters, the longer it can remain as both a frontline piece and a reserve piece, and in theory, the higher price it can get when it sold as surplus at the end of it's life. I would suspect that just a couple of more years of life would easily pay for the tenders and their related operational costs. It sounds like a pretty good deal for the taxpayers. In addition, the tender is much lighter and smaller, and is a much easier truck to handle and makes for a safer response for the public.

    I would be curious to see the following stats:

    Working fires v. total truck company runs

    Fires, smoke investigations & alarm trips v. total company runs

    EMS, MVAs & other calls v. total company runs

    My suspicion is that the vast majority of the truck company runs do not require the truck, and can be handled quite nicely by the tender. To me, unless the number of working (not reported) fires they respond to are surprisingly high, especially given their sprinkler system ordinances, it seems like a pretty reasonable way to save wear and tear on a very expensive truck.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 02-21-2010 at 03:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    God why am I not surprised. You probably have a Hawiian shirt in your closet, too.

    Actually, I have a couple. I love them. My wife doesn't. But I wear them anyway.

    And yes, I do look at the west coast for solutions much more than the east coast. Thier issues tend to match ours much more than the east.
    Too bad both you wont find anyone on either coast who condones cowardice.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Too bad both you wont find anyone on either coast who condones cowardice.

    My job is to stay alive for my family and retire. The public comes second. That's what I beleive and that's what I teach younger members. Job one is to walk out of the station after every run or every shift.

    It's not our emergency. It's theirs.

    Call me what you want.

    Too bad we actually can't have a discussion without you being an a**. I guess that's your problem.

    You obviously also have an issue with PFD and their past chief. That's too bad .... progress is a wonderful thing. That's your problem as well.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 02-21-2010 at 05:39 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Too bad both you wont find anyone on either coast who condones cowardice.

    My job is to stay alive for my family and retire. The public comes second. That's what I beleive and that's what I teach younger members. With any luck they see through your b u l l s h i t and it goes in one ear and out the other.Job one is to walk out of the station after every run or every shift. And I certainly dont have a problem with this. What I do have a problem with, however, is the blatant and pathetic use of "safety" to cover up your cowardice. I also have a problem with your continual admittance of not assisting others when off duty or in another jurisdiction when they are in clear and present danger and no other responders are on location. That you would leave a child to bleed and die....."They dont want us to assist" is not a legitimate, valid excuse, even if they do say it to you- grow a set and tell them to shove it. But then again, a good opportunity for you to use another excuse to cover the cowardice.

    It's not our emergency. It's theirs. And thinking like this is exactly, precisely the reason why you never have been, nor ever will be a Firefighter.

    Call me what you want. Yellow-spined coward.

    Too bad we actually can't have a discussion without you being an a**. I guess that's your problem. No, my problem is you being a coward.

    You obviously also have an issue with PFD and their past chief. That's too bad .... progress is a wonderful thing. That's your problem as well.
    Nope, no problem with progress, either. However, when it comes at the cost of efficiency, or burdening members with stupidity in the name of "The Customer", I do have a problem. This is the Fire Service, not Wal-Mart.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    You know, it sounds like a great solution when you just use a simple, two or three word response, without any true thought put into it. The fact is though, that having a full service emergency agency, that is cost efficient and effective can not be solved with a couple of sentences.
    .
    On a recent visit back home to a large New England City , we intended to visit with an old high school friend who happened to be working that night as shift commander on the Police department. As we were driving through the city we heard sirens and saw a tower ladder approaching down the hill towards us . We pulled over and watched a six man truck company driving code 3 through the heavy downtown traffic. A few blocks later we encountered the tower sitting in the middle of the main street,with the officer and 4 truckies standing around while the contract EMS crew of two Paramedics were treating a LOL sitting on the curb with what might have been a sprained ankle. This $850.000.00 tower had traveled 5 miles through the heavy city traffic at emergency speed to respond and arrive after the contract ambulance to stand around and put the truck out of service for twenty minutes.
    WHY????
    Is it because of bad dispatch operations??/ nope ,fire does the dispatching.

    Is it because if they didn't first respond to all EMS calls ,it would be hard to justify having a six man crew sitting around for the small chance of that expensive 70,000 pound truck being actually needed for a fire call???

    I'm not questioning the need to have the truck company manned 24/7 in a big city environment with hundreds of multi story buildings and high rises. Back in the 60's & 70's they were probably one of the hardest working truck companies in the country. But those days of hugh catastrophic multi building fires are gone. They've all burned down or were torn down with urban renewal.
    My problem is that they are using the biggest heaviest piece of apparatus in the city to respond to slip and falls calls, at a hugh risk to the crew and the public. How many serious accidents happen annually while responding code to these types of calls? How many brothers & sisters are injured needlessly???
    Worse yet is they continued to drive that way even though the ambulance was already on scene applying an ace bandage.

    Eventually they left the scene and we continued to meet up with our friend, who explained the instead of layoffs the fire department decided to first respond as BLS to all EMS calls, whether they were needed or not or requested by the contract ambulance service for lift assists.
    Seems like a poor justification of use of very expensive apparatus with the accompanying increased risk to the crew, and increased cost of maintenance for the truck.

    Again I'll make the statement: If they want to run EMS calls put career crew in ambulances that can transport if needed.
    I'd rather pay that 6 man truck crew to sit in their recliners than having them risk needless responses with that truck.

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    I'd be curious to see what their overhead costs are with running these additional units.

    They may be less expensive to run, but they will add to the department's overhead. Not to mention duplication of equipment on the ladder and the ladder tender.

    I am not certain on the cost savings on the wear and tear idea. You are just transferring it to another unit that will need the same work.

    Good luck with their idea. Just hope it does not become another "total quint" or "quint/midi" exercise.

    Anyone notice most failed experiments involve quints?

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