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Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Ladder issue continues in Roanoke

Like many things in the fire service, you cannot please everyone. Many issues are debated in the firehouse and differing opinions are offered. However, most often the guys/gals in the firehouse are not the decision makers. The decision makers have ideals set forth by budget, higher up management, and governing standards. The firefighters mostly want the best understandable because it makes their job easier, more efficient, and their lives may depend on it. After all, if a deficient piece of equipment is purchased it will not likely effect someone sitting behind a desk. That same piece of equipment may effect a firefighters ability to operate on the fire ground.

Back in 1997/1998 a decision was made to purchase two 75' quints to replace other trucks in the fleet. The trucks were designed with one rear axle, which is not a popular fire service ideal. The need for two rear axles is due to all of the gear that a ladder truck has to carry. The ladders were shortened from the 95'-100' average to 75' in order to have the weight low enough to place the truck on a single axle. The trucks are smaller than other ladder trucks, have pumps, a tank, and hose which take up a considerable amount of room while still having to carry all of a ladders equipment.

A couple of years ago, Ladder 2 was replaced. The old ladder was a 121' ladder truck, the new one is a 95' platform - a first for Roanoke. The 121' was placed in reserve. To picture the reserve ladder is looks like a crane painted red. It is huge.

Now take into mind all the things that firefighters have been told.
  1. We need a new station to fit state of the art equipment.
  2. Fitting state of the art equipment in the old station 1 is like putting a 36" waist in 34" pants.
  3. When the reserve ladder do a 3 point turn just to get into the new bay at the new station that was designed to fit state of the art equipment we were then told that tight is good.
  4. The state of the art equipment that was reported to not fit in the old station will also not fit in other stations.
So the saga continues. The maintenance garage put a new suspension on the reserve ladder. They did not realize that the new suspension actually raised the overall height of the ladder truck by a couple of inches. Normally, this would not be a problem, but Station 2 was altered to fit the reserve truck when it was new and it had 1 1/2" room between the top of the truck and the ceiling. So imagine the look on the firefighters faces when they wedged the reserve ladder truck into the bay at station 2 after the new suspension was put on. They reportedly had to let the air out of the tires to get the truck out of the station.

So what are we left with. Our reserve ladder cannot fit in station 2, nor can it be used to replace ladder 7 because ladder 7 is run as a quint now. So whenever Ladder 2, 7, or 13 is out of service the guys at 13 have to play musical chairs with the ladder trucks because that is the truck they need.

There is an immediate need for purchase of a new ladder truck. I understand that the Chief has already put in for a new one. The Chiefs plan on replacing trucks seems to be working quite well so far. It is too bad that we are still suffering the consequences of bad decisions in the past. The same decisions that firefighters stood against and the decision makers made anyways.

Unfortunately, it takes about 10 months to build a ladder truck.

This is only one example of things the Fire-EMS Department needs. The list is long.

I know how tight money is in the City. We have shelled out millions of dollars to the Art Museum and for building condos downtown.


Anonymous said...

The Only question I have is how do you wedge the truck into the bay, and from what I heard, very far back into the bay, if you have a spotter ??

I heard that the driver did not hear the scraping sound because the atmosphere at the station was so loud he /she could not hear the noise.

But what happened to the spotter ?

Anonymous said...

he is now a spot?

FireFleitz said...

I am not sure how you could blame the spotter for this. I think it is evident that the maintenance shop should have told the crew that the new suspension would raise the truck up some. Then the overall height should have been checked.

Anonymous said...

Rhett is this something that just happened? i have not heard this one!!

FireFleitz said...

It happened this past week. The ladder issue has been ongoing.

Anonymous said...

Rhett, isn't the point of the spotter to make sure you do not hit anything?? So, if I am spotting behind the truck and I see it scraping the roof, I probably should tell the driver to stop. If I do not see this big truck scraping the roof, I need to pay more attention to my job of spotting.

Kind of like an ARFF truck driving through a half-open bay door with a spotter. How do you not notice aws the spotter ??

FireFleitz said...

Very true. However, that ladder truck has been backed into that bay thousands of times and the clearance has never been an issue of scraping.

When I pull Engine 13 into the bay, I assume that nobody has raised the suspension, lowered the garage doors overall height and/or lowered the ceiling fans.

When you pull into the bay, do you assume that everything is the same as the last time? Yes, otherwise we would have to get out and measure the clearance of the door and the height of the rig every time.

If indeed the spotter noticed the truck scraping and didn't say anything about it, then they are at fault.

The other incident you talk of, well that was amazing. I don't know how that happened.

Anonymous said...

"I know how tight money is in the City. We have shelled out millions of dollars to the Art Museum and for building condos downtown."

Don't forget about that losing proposition on Day Ave. C of R is losing, what, $30-40k per house?

Anonymous said...

Yea, that was a waste of money on the citys part, kinda like the traffic calming curbs in SE! That worked. I think its funny that a certain capt cried and fussed to the point of writing the chief a letter saying if his station cant have the new engine that they didnt want one at all! They'd just keep the old one. How'd that work out for ya?

The Ol Grumpy Guy said...

This place has got a problem..I think it might be medical in nature. The Scared of your job, dumbass, dont stand up for you men, completely forget about the problems, has taken over. Even the old guys, Capts. BC's and so on. And noone wants the responsibility to take care of it. Chiefs..HINT HINT..Grow a Backbone and fix the problems that are running rampant in the dept. Wow. Im going to the Doc.

The Ol Grumpy Guy

Anonymous said...

Lets get somemore government housing in ROANOKE ! Lets give all the people who don't work more money!!