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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber
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    Feb 2003
    Weston, MO, USA

    Default Aerial Truck Issues

    I am a captain on a fire department that protects about 16,000 people, including a University, Hospital, 5 Schools, and an Artificial Flower Manufacturing Company just to name a few of the large ones within a 7 sq mi area. We are having issues with replacing our Out of Service Aerial Truck, which is a 1966 75' Snorkel. It has been in and out of service for about 2 1/2 years just trying to keep it working, but the time finally came when it died. The city council and citizens do not understand the need for an aerial truck. They just see the price tag and are not really concerned about safety and protection for our firefighters, or the public. They do not understand the differences in Fire Apparatus. They do not understand the requirements for such apparatus, so we have a lot of negative feedback from the public do to lack of knowledge. I am just wondering if anyone else has had similar problems and could maybe give some input on ways to "educateĒ them?
    We trust the council and the public to make decisions everyday about issues that donít include the fire department, so we just wonder why they donít trust us when it is something that we have knowledge in. We are also being told that we really should not speak out about our concerns and to just let it go, but most of my firefighters and my fellow captains are getting fed up with this issue, and I am finding it difficult to stay positive and keep them happy and interested. So if anyone has any ideaís I am all ears, because we have about run out of them.

    Captain Robert L. Head
    Bolivar City Fire Department
    Bolivar, MO

  2. #2
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Pt. Beach, NJ


    Here is a simple one, put them on the third floor of a building. Don't allow them to use stairs or elevators. Have the FD show up without any aerial. Ask them how it feels to not be able to get out of the building? Ask them how long they can hold their breath? Ask them if one life lost is worth more than the price of a truck? Also, don't be afraid to look at plain jane aerial's. Make a presentation at your council meeting about how many bldgs you have that are over 2 floors. Talk about how long it takes mutual aid aerials to show up if they are available. Councils are usually impressed with a good professional looking presentation. Have your facts together, wear your best uniforms, give them the story. Don't plead, don't beg, don't show frustration. They may not understand and it's up to you to educate them.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Saginaw, Tx


    My home town recently went through much the same issue except we had never had an aerial. Many of the complaints from the citizens( they are usually a very VOCAL MINORITY) centered around the issue of the fire department just wanting to become a big city fire department. They did not center on the issue. The fire department had to address the issue aimed at ISO and safety. It was a long education issue, but the city did buckle down and buy a 75' quint.

    Interesting enough, about a year after the quint was purchased one of the local businessmen who was adamantly opposed to buying the quint had a fire in his business and the quint was used to save about $50,000 worth of tires in his store. Afterwards, he made the statement to the fire chief that he had always supported buying the quint.

    Just put together a good, professional presentation and present your case.

  4. #4
    Forum Member PenguinMedic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Oregon, USA

    Angry You don't have to spend $500,000!

    Most departments don't need a brand new 105' Quint with a 2,250 gpm pump, half-mile of 5" hose, and a 10-man crew cab. If all you need is a simple ladder truck, there are some reasonable options out there. A "used" truck may work fine for your town. There are lots of departments out there with more money then they know what to do with. They replace rigs that are in great shape, with low miles, and have tons of extras on a regular basis. You should be able to find a mid 80's truck with a certified ladder for a good price these days.


    Buy what's best for YOUR budget/town/fire problem. A used ladder that works is better then no ladder at all.

    Just my $.02,

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber ff7134's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002

    Cool Aerial Issues

    Its like Bones said, put them in a situation where your only
    choice is a aerial. We did the same thing when our Ladder went
    caput. We told them, look at the saving on insurance alone
    for having the ladder(ISO) Also we said look at the situation bones talked about. We also bought a used ladder instead of getting a new one.....talk about the savings. Thats how we looked at it.
    AKA: Mr. Whoo-Whoo

    IAFF Local 3900

    IACOJ-The Crusty Glow Worm

    ENGINE 302 - The Fire Rats


  6. #6
    Senior Member bfd5229's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003


    Here is a simple one, put them on the third floor of a building. Don't allow them to use stairs or elevators. Have the FD show up without any aerial. Ask them how it feels to not be able to get out of the building?
    i agree with bones on this one
    -JEFF G

    Raritan Twp,NJ

    "Have Jaws, Will Travel"

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Nov 1999


    My volunteer department went through the EXACT same situation about 2 years ago. We are a three (3) station department that covers about 10.2 square miles of which about 50% is industrial, 30& commercial and 20% residential. In short we make more commercial and industrial fires than single family dwellings. We, at the time, ran 3 front line Engine Co.'s, 1 Heavy Rescue Co., 2 EMS first responder units and Chief vehicles. We realized for years that there was a need for elevated water due to no less than 30 warehouses with square footage in the 250,000 + range and more both bigger and smaller. Add in 9 hotels/motels, 5 schools and 20 or so office buildings and you can also see a great need for the rapid removal of occupants should there be a fire. For years we relied heavily on automatic aid with surrounding paid departments for aerials. We always found when they arrived, even with immediate dispatch, they were often times unable to position for the greatest benefit on the fire ground. Like many departments we asked for an aerial in our budget 2 years ago and began a year long fight. Our city is unique that we have no city property tax, we live and die by the sales tax. This has worked very well for our city by attracting huge amounts of business as you can see by our precentages. But this also makes large capital purchases even more of a target for extreme justificiation. Our City Council, Mayor, business people and citizens did not see a need for an aerial. Their argument was always we only have 6 story buildings. We began an intensive education of them. We explained the benefits of our OWN Truck Co. The fireground benefits of them being in the right position. The number of people that can be moved from the 3rd floor of a hotel with an aerial vs. ground ladders. The number of warehouses and businesses (Big sales tax generators) where we needed the reach and masterstream capability. All of this was a huge task. While this was on going, we began another effort towards our Truck Co. We mapped, drove and timed the nearest aerials that ran with us. There respective distance combined with an education on fire science and behavior showed how the delay of a Truck Co. can add up to a huge fire loss (2 of our close Truck Co.'s are the 1st and 2nd busiest Truck Co.'s in the Houston Fire Department). The 3rd front of our attack was I.S.O. Our current grade back then was a very gracious 5. We explained in great detail, over and over again, how we could improve our rating dramitically with the purchase of an aerial. How this would improve the attraction for other businesses to move into our city. When it was all said and done, we finally won the battle and our Truck Co. apparatus was approved for purchase. Another small battle ensued when the specs were presented and they wanted to know why our rig was how it was. Certain people could not understand the need for 2-1000GPM monitors in the platform, 2-1250GPM deck guns, crosslays, trash line, 800' of 5" (Our pumpers carry 600' of 6" in case we need to max the tower out), etc. We explained the need, they understood it and they went along with it and said order the rig. When our next I.S.O. grade was presented, we had achieved a Class 2 in our ENTIRE area (Including some county territory). The City Officials were astonished, but still not buying the difference they or the businesses or citizens would see. Well, needless to say when they themselves and the citizens and businesses started to call their insurance companies, they knew it first hand. All in all, it was a win for all parties, it just took education and sound planning. Hell they like our new rating so much, they have approved out next rig with an aerial so we can achieve our Class 1 (All we need is another aerial). We got what we needed and everyone else benefited too. Kinda interesting huh?

    Stay low and move it in.
    Last edited by STATION2; 03-07-2003 at 11:56 PM.
    Stay low and move it in.

    Be safe.


  8. #8
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Wauconda, Illinios


    Like others we went through the same thing when we bought our first Truck. We wanted a 100' Tower Ladder. The tallest building in our district is 4 stories which was the first question people wanted answered. We explained it was the heitht as much as it was the reach from the road which usually uses up half the working ladder. We put together a power point presentation and showed it at our chamber of commerce meetings, lions club, rotary club and to all our politicians. That gets the word out. We explained that it would provide safer and swifter operations for firefighters. We have not needed it for rescue (fortunately) but used that in the program as well. 1 year after the purchase we had a fire in the kitchen of a historical building on our main street. Being balloon frame const. the fire ran up the wall. The truck was used to open the outide wall from the first to second floor and put out the fire before it got tothe attic. Residents were impressed and we may have saved not only that building but others on main street that have significance. Performing this task with ground ladders would have been time consuming and may not have proided the same result. When a neighboring town started thinking about a purchase they made us due on every fire in their area. People kept seeing our truck on all there fires. They put us to work every time and within a short time residents and politicians wanted to know "why don't we have one of those" Within short time they did. Everyone out there is worried about their fireman now.... tell them you want your people to be safe and this is the best way to save our lives. Educate, Educate, Educate

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Rising Sun, MD

    Default Re: Aerial Truck Issues

    Originally posted by roberth134
    I am just wondering if anyone else has had similar problems and could maybe give some input on ways to "educateĒ them?
    Having just went through several months of work looking for an emergency replacement for our '68 Maxim 85' mid-mount aerial ladder, I can say that there are good used mid-80's trucks out there for about $175,000.

    That being said, we came to the conclusion that a new demo or stock unit is a much better buy, and cheaper in the long run. We were lucky enough to find a stock Pierce 105' HD rear mount ladder which came with about 100k worth of discounts over a brand new unit.

    As far as getting the money, we are fortunate (or unfortunate, depending) that we do not have to rely on the city council to make our purchases for us... but because of the large, unplanned investment we went to them for assistance.

    We did our best presentation, explaining that our unit was currently out of service and the importance of having an aerial, and how just a few days earlier our aerial wasn't available to us during a fatal house fire...

    We were met with the typical "we'll see what we can do."

    Two days later we had a dwelling fire in town, a chimney fire with extension into the attic space.

    Three of the four town commissioners were watching as me & another firefighter threw our 35' ladder, climbed to the roof with our saw & tools & cut the roof.

    They also watched as fire blew out from the gable & soffit engulfing the ground ladder & cutting off our exit.

    Then they watched as the aerial from our neighboring company, which was just arriving, quickly set up, extended & rescued us...

    Thankfully it was much more dramatic & desperate looking from the ground then the situation actually was, but I think, hopefully, it will make their task of "seeing what they can do" a little easier.

    I am trying to get pictures of the incident from the local newspaper photographer. If I am able to, I would gladly send you copies to help in your cause.

    Good luck...

  10. #10
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Ohio, USA

    Thumbs up

    You might also hit 'em where it hurts most...the wallet. Most insurance rates for homeowners tend to go DOWN for fire protection if there's an aerial within a certain response area (like 2 miles or something like that.) You might check with local insurance companies, and then get your figures together. Add that to other suggestions listed on this thread and give your community the full-court press for a ladder. Another idea might be to take some of your civic leader and good citizens to a neighboring department that operates an aerial and have them explain what one can do.

    Stay safe.

  11. #11
    Forum Member Fire304's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    At the Helm


    A different tack on what 245 said, since you already have an aerial, removing it from service and not replacing it would have a negative effect on your ISO rating, which would cause insurance costs to go up for all occupancies in your response area. If educating the coucil fails, you may wish to try and educate the local buisness owners. Contact property insurance agents and ask them what and increase in the ISO rating would cost (even better if you have a buisness owner do it). Let the buisness owners pressure the council for the new ladder.
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