Thread: Ladder Sections

  1. #1
    mnfireguy Guest

    Question Ladder Sections

    Does anybody have any pictures or specs on what the inside of aerial ladder section and rungs look like? It would be fun to look at steel and aluminum ladders. I keep hearing that steel will rust and aluminum will melt. Maybe if we could see the wall thicknesses, it would help evaluate the pros and cons.

  2. #2
    Resq14 Guest


    Contact Pierce, or NIOSH. I'm sure they have some lovely pics of Pierce ladders and their innards.

  3. #3
    mnfireguy Guest


    No luck on the NOISH website

  4. #4
    mongofire_99 Guest


    I keep hearing that steel will rust and aluminum will melt.

    Depends on the type/alloy of aluminum on the melting properties. Same for steel rusting, depends on the type/alloy.

    Maybe if we could see the wall thicknesses, it would help evaluate the pros and cons.

    Call the local reps and tell them you want to see a cross section, they should be able to provide you with one.

    But, wall thckness doesn't mean squat in reality. Steel will have a thinner wall and aluminum will have the thicker one.

    It's interesting, which mfg that builds an aluminum aerial has never had a failure?

    Yeah, yeah, I know if aluminum is so great, why don't they build the torque box out of it?

    It all depends on the application. If steel was so much better, why don't they build 747s out of it?

  5. #5
    Resq14 Guest

    Thumbs up


  6. #6
    mnfireguy Guest


    Right on....

  7. #7
    USAR29 Guest


    Here is an interesting addition to the ongoing dialogue "Steel versus Aluminum":

    Aluminum dispersses heat more readily than steel... And the "fishscale" or "swirling" on E-One ladders further improves the aerials ability to disperse heat by creating more surface area...
    (TRY THIS AT HOME-take a sheet of aluminum foil and heat it in your oven to 450 degrees... now using a gloved hand or a pair of kitchen tongs, pull the sheet of aluminum foil out of the oven... now touch it with you bare hand...... DONT TRY THIS WITH STEEL)

    Each aerial has its pros and cons... but I will challenge anyone to show me an aluminum aerial ladder that has melted where the ladder was being used PROPERLY (i.e. not subjected to direct flame impingement) Radiant heat should not cause an aerial to MELT!

    Steel is stronger, Aluminum is lighter, Steel Rusts and requires painting, Aluminum corrodes from contact with some chemicals...

    Bottom Line... Both material make excellent aerials... I don't think anyone can prove that one is significantly better than the other...

    And why didn't anyone mention Stainless Steel, as is used on American LaFrance's Silver Eagle Ladder???

  8. #8
    mnfireguy Guest

    Thumbs up

    USAR29 is on the right path hear. It has been interesting to research all angles of this debate. I find it hard to belive (or no one has been able to convince me yet) that a steel aerial is in anyway better than an aluminum one. One interesting e-mail I received stated the lack of aluminum (or steel) aerials that have been damaged due to heat in the field and the great abundance of aerials that were taken out of service do to corrosion. What do you others out in field think?

  9. #9
    mongofire_99 Guest


    What do you others out in field think?

    I would call the folks that test ladders and ask them the question.

    I think somebody that sells or likes only steel ladders lied to you. Why wouldn't they post the information they have here? After all they could save someones life if not and pick up the commission on a new stick.

    People don't realize that unlike steel, oxidation (corrosion) on aluminum actually protects the aluminum from more oxidation as long as the oxide is not continually removed. In fact, aluminum is chemically oxidized to prevent oxidation and give it permanent color in a process called anodization.

    [This message has been edited by mongofire_99 (edited 06-01-2001).]

  10. #10
    Chops Guest


    T297, good evening.

    I thought I'd throw this out on the floor. It seems that everyone dwells on a melted aerial in Boston back in the early 80's after being in a fireball for a while. I've heard (from a very, very reliable source and trying to get a pic) that a steel aerial also failed at the same fire.

    I love both LTI and E-One ladders but thought I'd share the whole story (FYI, it wasn't an LTI that failed for clarification). For the thickness info, I searched around the e-one site and found the "white paper" in the "aerial" section. I found it interesting reading on the topic.

    Hope to help.

  11. #11
    M1NFD Guest


    Here's my 2 cents. I am an Alf fan, from before they recently came back. I do a lot of work with aerials, and there have been some instances of ladder failure in my area. The thickness of the steel in an ALF ladder is .051 inches. They derive thier strength from the shape of the steel, and with an ALF ladder they get thier strength from the truss style construction. All the stress is in the handrail, and when they fail it is typicly the second section, right after where the first fly ends. Steel typicly does not have issues, with the exception of Maxim aerials, whereas they did not weld thier rungs around 100%, water could get inside the ladder and rust it from the inside out. That contributed to an aerial failure not too far from me. Annual testing is important for this reason on a steel ladder, even if it doesnt get used much, road vibration and metal thickness are an issue as much as or more than use. As far as Aluminum, Aluminum is a VERY brittle metal. I have never been worked an aluminum aerial for extended periods, but in my conversations with our UL inspectors annually, they say that they almost ALWAYS find cracks in an aluminum stick, where in 13 years working an alf, I have run into cracks 3 times. Boston also ran into issues when they first got thier aluminum E-Ones where it would melt(DOH) when used like they did the old steel ones. They both habe thier pros and cons and both require annual testing for a reason.

  12. #12
    TCFD12 Guest


    Mongofire_99 -
    "It's interesting, which mfg that builds an aluminum aerial has never had a failure?"


    I disagree with your response somewhat, Aluminum is not brittle, it is however a softer compound than steel. I find it hard to believe that a UL inspector said that the "almost always" find cracks in an aluminum ladder. We had an aluminum tower ladder in service for 30 years and never had any cracks (that weren't caused by an accident or improper operation) We have since replaced it with another aluminum ladder. Its the design of the ladder that gives it its strength - not the wall thickness.

    And the one big point you are missing is the weight difference, which can be substantial.

  13. #13
    CRISPY* Guest


    Originally posted by TCFD12:
    "It's interesting, which mfg that builds an aluminum aerial has never had a failure?"

    That is not true>>>>>Sutphen has had a ladder failure.

    I do believe E-One has never had a ladder failure of any kind.

  14. #14
    TCFD12 Guest


    Really????? When???? Are you sure or are you just guessing. I would love to see any info on a Sutphen failure.

  15. #15
    mnfireguy Guest


    I have seen cracked welds on the rungs of our Sutphen were they conect to the box boom. They were spoted by the testing company during an anual test. The thickness of the rungs are real thin. Testing on any aerial is extreamly important.

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