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Thread: Tower trucks

  1. #1
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    Question Tower trucks

    Hello all,
    I am looking for some pros and cons on the use of a Tower truck. We have a small town thatís starting to grow, several churches, taxpayers, older citizen apt.ís. and a couple of flat roofed stores (metal trussed)and soon to come, more apt.ís and town homes.

    We are debating whether we should fix our older squirt or purchase a used tower at this point the squirt has the advantage due to itís versatility i.e. ladder, pumper, master stream 750 Gal water. And the tower has reach, period. but the tower would be requested for most mutual aid calls. any help??
    Last edited by Cannoli; 10-21-2002 at 12:22 PM.


  2. #2
    IACOJ Agitator Adze39's Avatar
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    Are you saying that the tower you are looking at has reach only? Or are you saying that a tower, in general, only has reach?
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  3. #3
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    Adze39
    my question concerns the truck we looked at. The tower we looked at had no pumping capabilities so in order to run with that particular truck we would at a minimum have to put our engine on the street and run it as a pump to the tower leaving only a rescue truck in the house and or have agreements with mutual aid to supply a pump and or tanker if they call on our tower.
    the other option that i can see would be to purchase a TAC type vehicle that has large cap pump to run with the tower and by doing this we would be paying out an additional 100 grand to get our great deal on a tower . Now just so you know I have plenty of Proís for this truck Iím just looking for some help in the debate. thanks

  4. #4
    Forum Member Fire304's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Cannoli
    we would at a minimum have to put our engine on the street and run it as a pump to the tower leaving only a rescue truck in the house and or have agreements with mutual aid to supply a pump and or tanker if they call on our tower.
    That's why NFPA requires 2 ClassA pumpers and a truck for a 1st alarm.

    I don't think you'll find a true tower with 750 gal of water, most can only carry 250 or so due to weight limits.

    Since you don't already have a 2nd pump I'm gonna guess you don't have a very busy department. If that is the case, any time you need water out the end of the stick you'll be calling mutual aid anyway. I don't have any solid numbers on it, but I'd be willing to bet that on average, aerial pipe operations usually occur in fewer than 10% of all calls were the stick is used. Most of the time its used for roof access or rescue work, if its deployed at all.

    A big stick is not just for reaching up! Having a big long stick is nice if there are houses set back a long ways from the road in your neck of the woods. It can also be used as an anchor point for high angle rescues, and in a WMD or any mass-decon situation, the stick can be used to make a make-shift shower alley and decon station with salvage covers. Of course, in the event of a large evacuation of a multi floor appartment you can send people down the ladder on their own, you can't do that with a squirt or ground ladders.

    On a down side, towers are big and heavy, not everyone can drive them, and you may find some places they don't fit, or are too heavy (bridges) to go.

    Good Luck!

  5. #5
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    There are 2 ways to choose aerial apparatus.
    1) Buy "off the shelf"
    2) Define your uses and buy exactly what you need.
    While #1 is mostly used in the fire service it can be explained very simply. There are very few people who understand the aerial.
    Things to consider...
    Longest reach needed. (ex. Corpus Christy (sp) purchased a 170+ Bronto Skylift to achieve rescues from their highest (18 floors) hotel. Disadvantage is that roads and parking lots must be able to support the weight.
    Maximum water flow needed (1 turret, 2 turrets)
    For rescue?
    Apparatus servicing . Won't help if servicing is 50-100 miles away.
    Outrigger spread.
    Road height
    Twin front steering axles
    Quick setup (There are some slow ones out there)
    There's more but start here and I will get back to you about it.

  6. #6
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    All,
    thanks for the advice. I appreciate it, but maybe what Iím really looking for is some different tower experiences. The kind where you felt your house needed a tower or ....you felt the tower you had was a great parade piece and thatís it. We have had a couple different trucks here in the past i.e. squirt, snorkel. and typically they have been purchased used. ( small town, small budget)I just can't seem to justify in my mind the need for an aerial device in small town USA and I need more "pros" than "cons" (I have plenty of cons) to help me make a fair decision.

    also...Fire304.....what Chap. & Para. is that NFPA requirement?

  7. #7
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    Since it sounds like your community is largely residential, I'll throw my 2 cents in and suggest that you look at a straight stick (maybe 75 feet or so) with a pump. Towers are nice if you do a lot of elevated stream work (at fires where you're there a while), because you've got a nice place for the operators to hang out. Also, they're nice for rescue, especially with the elderly who aren't keen on climbing down that narrow stick.

    BUT (and I speak from experience since we have a 100' ladder tower) most of the time you won't need that. Most vent work can just as easily be done off of a stick, and if you spend a little extra cash and get a remote master stream (these can be retro-fitted on used trucks...we did it) you've solved your long fire elevated stream too. The other thing is the community itself. Do you have a lot of older, narrow streets with overhanging trees and power lines? If so, I'd consider a stick. Platforms LOVE to reach out to try to kiss things, and you also get into wide outrigger spreads.

    To help with the justification, look at ISO ratings and insurance. I understand that an aerial within so many miles does something for your resident's insurance.

    Hope this helps.

  8. #8
    Forum Member Fire304's Avatar
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    Default Stumped

    Originally posted by Cannoli
    also...Fire304.....what Chap. & Para. is that NFPA requirement?
    I made the statement based on (as I recall) reading something to that effect a few years ago, and that the common 1st alarm in my county is 2 engines and a ladder, so I assumed it must have been a requirement somewhere.

    After much reading (my eyes are a little blurry from it) I have yet to find a specific apparatus response required by NFPA. I thought it was to be found in 1710/1720, chapter 5, and in fact there is much in there as to response times and assignment of duties (2 attack, 2 backup, 2 vent, 2 search, OIC, pumper) for the first alarm, but nothing specific that says 2 engines and a truck company (although, if you read the definitions a truck company is the one trained and equipted to do search and vent). I read quite a bit of the NFPA codes coming to this conclusion, and after talking with my chief and training officer I've come to this realization:

    If you read between the lines there is no way you can satify NFPA reuirements (between manpower, assignments, water supply, and equipment) without having 2 1/2 pieces of apparatus there. You must have a water supply and an attack pump plus all gear needed to perform search and vent functions (you don't need a stick, but it would be tough to cover the assignments w/ just 2 engines, a pump & quint would cover it). Its a sort of cover your butt scenerio, if anything bad happens the lawyers could say "well NFPA clearly states you need XYZ, why did you only respond with X and Y?" while the rest of us would have a hard time figuring out exactly what constitutes Z. There is much use of the term "appropriate responce" based on preplanning. Do you preplan?

    Chief suggested checking ISO, OSHA, and CFR's to see if there is a more specific requirment there, so I will when I can. Meanwhile, if anyone else knows if there is a specific response guideline please share with us.

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