(Crystal A. Proxmire, 7/20/2011)
“You can’t send people out to a fire without making sure they’re comfortable using the equipment,” said Ferndale Fire Chief Kevin Sullivan as firefighters gathered in Martin Road Park to “play with the new toy.” The new “toy” being a 100 foot aerial ladder with a built in hose and other advanced features that will help the Department fight fires in our city.
City Council officially approved the purchase on April 11, 2011 and the vehicle was delivered on April 14. Since that time inspections have been done and lettering added. The truck still cannot be stored on site, since modifications need to be made to the doors of Fire Station One so that the truck will fit inside. It’s currently being stored off-site.
The training is another important element that must be completed before it can be feasibly used in an emergency. The department’s former ladder truck was built in the 1980s. “This is so smooth,” said Sargent John Theut. “Nothing like the old one.” Theut recalled that the last truck did not have a water line built into the ladder, so firefighters would have to carry the hose up with them and “hang on tight” in order to get the water where they needed it to go. The Ferrara HD-100 gives a smooth ride up, safe water pressure of up to 1,500 gallons per minute, and even the ability to point and spray without anyone in the bucket.
Another feature Theut values is the misting nozzles located on the underside of the bucket. This comparatively small release of water helps protect the fighters from heat and fire from below. They can also be positioned lower to the ground in a hazardous materials emergency and used as a decontamination shower.
Aerial Specialist Scott Detweiler from Ferrara Fire Apparatus Inc. is up from Pennsylvania for the week training the firefighters on the nuances of the equipment. “There are things to be aware of,” he said. “The hose will only work if they are at a safe angle. They also need to look for the best spot to set up when they get on a scene.” Detweiler said that pavement is preferred, but that packed ground would also be safe as long as firefighters are careful not to let the water get soggy beneath them. He also cautioned against setting up too close to the edge of pavement.
The truck is designed to be used with a crew of as little as two firefighters. This means that in times of lean staffing they are able to use the conveniences of the truck to work more efficiently. And in the case of large fires, the truck helps free up fighters to work on other life-saving tasks.
70% of the $903,100 vehicle purchase was covered by a FEMA grant (Federal Emergency Management Authority), with the remainder coming out of the Motor Pool Equipment Fund which is designed for such purposes. Read our previous story at – https://oaklandcounty115.com/2011/04/13/new-fire-truck-arrives-safely/