Breathing Air on Ladder Trucks
Anybody out there know if it is possible to retrofit a ladder truck with on-board breathing air? We currently wear our SCBA when operating on the ladder however in certain situations it would be nice to have master cylinders, possibly attached to the sides of the ladder at its base, that we could breath off of by simply connecting in a face piece at the ladder's tip.
I know it exists however, most everyone I have talked to got their ladder with air from the manufacturer at time of purchase not as a retrofit.
I'm assuming I can go back to the trucks manufacturer however I was looking to see if anyone has had any experience with such a situation and could provide a ballpark on price and whether it was worth the effort or not!
Thanks! Stay Safe!
Ladder Failures in Ladder Pipe Operations
It is true that many failures have occur with old-school ladders. But, keep in mind that many of these units are still in service. Hopefully operators of these realize the truck's limitations and operate inside the boundaries of the aerial device.
"Several aerial ladder failures have occurred when a ladder pipe was shut down after being operated at a low angle. The nozzle reaction from the ladder pipe helps to counteract the force of gravity and assists in supporting the weight of the ladder, as long as water is flowing. When the ladder pipe is shut down, the extra support is suddenly lost and the ladder may be too weak to support the weight of the ladder pipe, plus the hose and water, as well as the firefighter who may have been operating the ladder pipe. The effect is magnified if the ladder pipe has been operated by remote control and a firefighter walks out to the tip of the ladder to evaluate conditions at the same time as the ladder is shut down.
"Atlantic City, NJ - November l8, 1993
A 1970 Pirsch 100 foot aluminum ladder collapsed during a ladder pipe operation, seriously injuring one firefighter. The ladder was extended 97 feet at an elevation angle of approximately 37 degrees, which was beyond the recommended extension limits for ladder pipe operations. The tractor-trailer vehicle had been parked in a jack-knife position. As a firefighter ascended the ladder, a twisting failure occurred in the bed section, approximately eight feet from the base of the ladder. State investigators determined that there was no physical problem with the ladder which would have caused the collapse. The cause was attributed to operating the ladder in an unsafe manner.
"East Chicago, IN - July 17, 1994
A 100 foot steel Maxim ladder, originally constructed in 1959 and remounted on a 1980 Mack chassis, collapsed during a ladder-pipe operation at a large tire fire, injuring one firefighter. The ladder was extended approximately 50 to 70 feet at a 35 degree elevation angle and rotated approximately 15 degrees to the side of the truck. The ladder had not been inspected for at least two years. The ladder pipe was shut down just before the collapse occurred, and a firefighter was in the process of ascending the ladder to survey the scene and reposition the nozzle. The firefighter was approximately 50 feet up the ladder when it buckled in the first fly section just above the bed. The firefighter was seriously injured and the aerial ladder was destroyed. The falling ladder became entangled in power lines which absorbed some of the impact. The power lines had been de-energized at the request of the Incident Commander.
"Yonkers, NY - October 27, 1994
A 1987 Seagrave 100 foot steel rear-mount aerial ladder, similar to the one that was involved in the New York City incident, collapsed during a structure fire. The ladder was being used in a ladder-pipe operation and collapsed onto the roof of an adjacent house. A firefighter who was operating the ladder pipe was injured when a twisting failure occurred in the first fly section, near where it joins with the bed section. The ladder rotated to the right and fell onto the roof of the house. At the time of collapse, the truck was parked facing uphill on a slight incline.
The ladder was nearly fully extended approximately 40 degrees and nearly perpendicular to the centerline of the truck. (The exact angle of elevation at the time of collapse is not known because the ladder operator tried to lower the ladder after noticing it was collapsing. The angle of elevation after collapse was approximately 40 degrees, but the angle was probably not much more than this at the time of collapse.) The metallurgist who inspected the ladder could find no visible defects or fatigue related problems that would have caused a failure. The operating conditions were beyond the limits indicated on the inclinometer for ladder-pipe operations.
Ya, newer ladders don't have to operate under the same specific constraints of old technology. But remember, not everyone has new ladders. And even if you do, I still think it's an unsafe practice to play with a pipe at the tip. Firefighter safety far outweighs the necessity of "seeing" where your water is being applied from an elevated position. These are not the only ones either. I'll find the rest later.