Thursday, January 31, 2013

Essential Equipment Temporarily Down

AFD Engine 2 (Quint)
Both the Quint (Engine 2) and Ladder Truck 1 are currently out of service due to maintenance issues leaving the town without its own aerial platform truck, a vital tool for firefighting ... but, thankfully, for only two weeks.

And in the meantime, Worthington has kindly donated the services of their ladder truck until either one of ours returns.  

The Quint is a multi-task unit that acts as both pumper and ladder truck with 75' vertical range and can seat six fully equipped firefighters.  The town purchased it in the summer of 2009 for $635,000.  And yes, it was in service last week at the deadly Rolling Green Apartments fire.

Ladder Truck 1 is a 1988 LTI with a 102' aerial platform.  Each of the two ladder units carry a 1,000 gallon per minute gun on top of the ladder to attack fire from above.
Ladder Truck 1 at University Drive Laundromat dryer fire
 Quint in action at Rolling Green fire. Photo courtesy of Steven O'Toole


Dr. Ed said...

Unless this is due to totally unexpected things, I would say that someone wasn't planning well.

Any piece of equipment has a maintenance schedule (or should) and also the "common sense" of a mechanic and/or users who ought to know that things are starting to get funky and may need to be dealt with.

Fire trucks exist to be broken at fires -- things are going to both wear out and break when the trucks are being used at maximum performance under quite harsh (hot v. cold) conditions like the Rolling Green fire. Metal itself might break -- and I don't fault the guys for this.

And I actually credit the AFD for taking the time to check the equipment out later -- unlike the Boston Fire Dept which literally lost a ladder truck (and the driver) into the side of a building when its brakes totally failed (which isn't supposed to happen -- the spring brakes are *supposed* to engage when the air pressure drops below a certain point).

So AFD guys -- here is a chance to show off your work -- is the stuff being fixed related to the beating those trucks had to take at that fire? In simple terms, what broke? (and give yourselves credit for finding it *now* and not at a fire...)

Or is this routine stuff with someone not paying attention to the fact that it might not be best to have both ladders out of service at the same time? If that, folks ought to have some very serious questions to ask...

Thomas Valle said...

Dr. Ed,

I can speak to your comment as the secretary of the Amherst Firefighters Local 1764, not as a representative of the department.

Fire trucks exist to serve and protect the community. Though they are sometimes damaged while performing their duties, it is not their primary function.

The fact both vehicles have been sent out for repair is truly just a matter of bad luck on the part of AFD. Ladder 1 is undergoing repairs related to operation of the ladder itself. I honestly do not no the specific details of the problem, but I know it has been waiting for a specific part which was on special order. It has been stored inside our station (and used for its other equipment and capabilities) while waiting for the part, rather than being stored outside at the dealer and unavailable for use.

Engine 2 has been sent to the dealer for a hydraulic leak involving the outriggers (stabilizers used to lift the wheels of the truck off the ground during ladder operations). This problem was diagnosed shortly after the Rolling Green fire, but it is impossible to say exactly when the leak began. The ladder was, in fact, used at that fire.

These problems are not routine in nature and cannot be scheduled. But this is not to say these problems are unheard of. Unfortunately, sometimes things break. Like I said, bad luck timing-wise.

Both of these problems were diagnosed and dealt with before any danger was present to firefighters or the public. Neither truck was ever at risk of being a danger on the road. In fact, both vehicles were delivered to their respective dealerships under their own power.

The Amherst Firefighters have no issue with the maintenance or safety of the AFD fleet. Problems are identified and dealt with appropriately, and routine maintenance is done on all vehicles according to appropriate schedules.

I hope this answers your questions.

Thomas Valle
Amherst Firefighters, Local 1764