Ladder fire truck helps BPS

Published 10:21 am Friday, January 27, 2012

On Tuesday, BPS officers—who are trained as both policemen and firefighters—took turns riding in a bucket attached to the end of a ladder that can be extended out to 104 feet from the fire truck. In this image, you can see one officer in the bucket, another operating the ladder’s controls and another observing as a safety precaution.

Bainbridge Public Safety officers got a view from up high this week as they trained on the operation of a fire truck equipped with an 104-foot extendable ladder.

The training took place Tuesday in the parking lot of the old K-Mart, next to BPS headquarters on Shotwell Street.

The City of Bainbridge acquired the ladder-equipped fire truck in 2009, after an ISO insurance study recommended its purchase could help Bainbridge Public Safety officers in the event of a fire at any of approximately a dozen large buildings within the city. The $800,000 truck could be used to fight fires at tall or large buildings, such as shopping centers or industrial facilities.

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Buildings that are three or more stories in height or are large enough that firefighters would have to use more than 3,500 gallons of water per minute would require firefighters to use a ladder truck, City Manager Chris Hobby said previously.

The ladder can be extended both horizontally and vertically and rotated, making the ladder potentially useful for fighting fires downhill of the truck or even for water rescues, said a representative with Rosenbauer, the truck’s Minnesota-based manufacturer. The ladder truck can also serve as a tanker truck, allowing other fire trucks to hook into its ample water supply.

On Tuesday, the officers were learning about all the aspects of the truck’s operation: they took turns riding in the bucket attached to the end of the ladder, practiced controlling the ladder and learned how to deploy the mechanical jacks that extend from the truck and help keep it from tipping over while the ladder is being extended.

“We’ve been training all the officers at the rank of Corporal or higher, with the idea that they can pass on what they learned to the other officers on their shift,” said Capt. Ryan Wimberley, the training officer at BPS. “Some of the main things officers need to know about the truck relate to its weight, load limit and stability. There are certain distances and angles that the ladder is capable of being deployed to safely and other combinations that you would want to avoid.”

Since they could be up in the air as high as 10 building stories while they are in the ladder’s bucket, the officers wear a safety harness as a precaution, Wimberley said. A device called a Stokes basket that essentially works like a medical stretcher can be attached to the ladder’s basket, enabling a firefighter to rescue someone from a high-up window and bring them down safely.

The truck can support a weight of 1,000 pounds in the ladder’s bucket, known as its tip load. With water flowing out of the truck, the bucket’s practical weight limit is about 500 pounds, enough to carry two people.

“You hope you won’t have a situation serious enough to use the ladder truck, but when you do, it’s a nice asset to have,” BPS Director Eric Miller said.