Touching the Ground
By: Ricky Riley
When we talk about Ladder Towers, there is always the discussion of the ability of them to place their basket on the ground to do the patented sidewalk sweep. On most units especially rear mounted towers this can be a very long distance from the side of the rig. On some units they may have to extend out 60’ just to be able to touch the ground and start operating in the hydraulic sidewalk sweep tactic. For those of us that are Aerialscope snobs, and believe only in these units midship-mounted configuration and low turntable height as the only device to effectively perform this type of operation. We have now found a group of firefighters and officers that have been working to decrease that extension length and place that basket on the ground in a shorter distance. While working to fully understand the operational aspects of their unit and provide a sidewalk feature for their unit, our friends from the Wichita Fire Department have come up with the “South Side” lean.
By making use of the “H” style jack system that they have on their Pierce rear-mount tower, they have the jacks on the side they want to operate lower on at the minimal depth to the ground, and also reaching the pressure needed to fully stabilize the rig. In other words the green OK light comes on at the stabilizer control panel. They then extend the jacks on the opposite side to a height that lowers the operating side of the rig to a lower height. Once again getting all the required green OK lights to come on. This tilted position lowers the rig on the operating side, thus reducing the amount of ladder extension needed to reach the ground, creating a better scrub surface and operating area. This is a great example of firefighters and officers understanding a tactical operation, and working within the safe operating limitations of their vehicle to achieve that operational success.
Before any department tries this method, we would ask you to contact your aerial manufacturer to ensure that this is a safe operation for your particular aerial device. A thank-you goes out to the men and women of the Wichita Fire Department for sending us the pictures of this technique, particularly the members of Engine and Truck 2.