By Mike Ciampo
The hamlet of Wading River (NY) was formed in 1671 on the north shore of Long Island. Fire protection in the early days was provided when neighbors helped neighbors and they were notified by the ringing of the church bell. As the years passed, neighboring communities created fire departments and they would assist the hamlet. However, since many of these departments were miles away, it took a long time for them to respond.
In the mid 1940’s, soldiers were returning from war and looked to move back into their hometown, something occurring in communities across the country. With the population growth and new homes, fire protection was needed. In 1947, the Wading River Fire Department was established through the efforts of many community-minded individuals.
The department’s first apparatus was a 1923 American La France rotary gear-type pumper purchased from another department for $500. Since a firehouse wasn’t constructed yet, the engine was housed in a member’s small garage. This was common among so many departments when they were starting up.
Today, the Wading River Fire Department responds out of two firehouses, on an average of more than 1,000 calls per year. A high percentage of those calls are EMS related, but due to their location on Long Island, they also respond to unique water rescue incidents and wildland brush fires.
The department operates with three engines, one tanker, one ladder, one heavy rescue, two ambulances, one medic unit, three brush trucks, one marine unit, four chief’s vehicles, and several support vehicles. They do also maintain a beautiful antique 1946 Chevrolet pumper.
Recently, the department took delivery of a REV Group Ferrara Inferno chassis heavy duty 107’ aerial ladder. The aerial is a four-section unit with an operational range of -8° to +72° and tip load of 750 lbs with blue LED rung illumination lighting. It has a horizontal reach of 101’ at 0° and vertical reach of 107’ at 72°.
The waterway and master stream device is an electrically actuated positional waterway capable of flowing 2,000 gpm. The rig is what Ferrara called a skeleton, meaning it was partially built with a cab and aerial ladder mounted on a chassis, awaiting a department who could build a body to their specifications and design needs.
The rig is powered by a Cummins X15 500hp engine and has an Allison 4000EVS transmission. It has a side-mount Waterous S100 2,000-gpm pump and a 500-gallon water tank. Over the pump panel there are four dividers for hose lines. The unit runs two 1 ¾”, one 2 ½” attack lines, and one 3” dead load which can extend any of these stretches if needed.
The unit has an extruded aluminum body with ROM roll-up compartment doors, which are painted red. There are a few hinged compartment doors on the apparatus in various locations. The rig is painted white over red with the crew cab and aerial ladder being white. A Whelen emergency light package encompasses the warning lights and two Fire Tech LED brow lights are mounted on the cab which lights up emergency scenes.
The rig also has a Federal Q Long Island-type siren and two Grover air-horns mounted in the extended front bumper. The bumper has a chrome swivel intake and two hose troughs, one for suction and the other for a trash-line. In the front grill, an illuminated LED light brightens the LAD4DER signage. A thick reflective stripe encased by two thinner ones runs along the lower portion of the cab and then runs upward and horizontally across the mid-point of the apparatus body.
The rear of the apparatus has the NFPA safety chevrons and large signage on the rear compartment which houses portable ladders, hooks, and the department’s extended hose stretch package. The extended stretch is used for structures set off the road some distance or where apparatus can’t get close enough for operations.
For ease of packing, this hose bed is on a slide-rack which holds 600 feet of 3” hose, with a 3-way valve on the end. The rig’s supply line bed is to the right side of the rear and holds 1,000’ of 5” hose. The portable ladder complement is made up of Alco-Lite ladders, a roof, two extension and one attic/folding ladder sit in the rear.
The fly section of the aerial ladder also has an attic/folding ladder mounted on it, used when encountering a high parapet or the aerial is up and the ladder is needed for interior access into an attic or to climb up and onto a set-back roof.
Ladder 4 carries quite the ensemble of tools and appliances, especially since it can operate as an engine or ladder company. The unit also carries Hurst extrication equipment for use at auto accidents. The forcible entry compartment has two sets of Fire Hooks Unlimited (FHU) irons (axes and Pro-Bars) mounted on the outer side of the fold-out storage rack.
The opposite side of this rack houses a large and small bolt cutter and a pick-head axe. In the back of the compartment, a duck-bill padlock breaker and sheetrock rake is affixed to the rear wall. There are also other FHU tools stored there: a Hydra-Ram is in the back of the compartment, while two K-tools are mounted on the side-wall of the compartment.
The rotary saw compartment sits under the supply hose bed and it’s closest to the turntable so members can quickly retrieve the saw prior to climbing the aerial ladder. The saws sit on a pull-out tray, one is a Husqvarna K-12 Fire-Rescue model gas-powered saw while the other is a Milwaukee MX Fuel 14” battery operated cut-off saw. The value of the battery-powered saw is that it is quieter than gas-powered saws and emits no emissions, making it safer to use inside or outside.
Also stored in this pull-out tray is a large water manifold and inline gate. In the chauffeur’s side rear compartment, Ladder 4’s Cutter-Edge chain saw, Milwaukee battery-operated reciprocal saw, and two Super Vac V16-BL exhaust fans are stored. The unit also has two portable Milwaukee battery-operated tripod lights, which can be set-up outside or inside a structure. These lightweight, easy-to-transport-and-set-up lights enable firefighters to quickly illuminate an area.
The Wading River Fire Department is proud of the way it designed its ladder apparatus, and it will surely assist the firefighters in protecting the citizens of Wading River for years to come.
*Special thanks to Josh Merberg from Neville Fleet Services for his assistance.*