Alexandria (VA) Seagrave Tractor-Drawn Aerial

Alexandria Virginia’s Truck 205’s Seagrave tractor drawn aerial.

By Michael N. Ciampo

The independent city of Alexandria in the Commonwealth of Virginia is located on the western bank of the Potomac River. It sits across the river from the southeast section of Washington, D.C., and Prince George’s County, Maryland, just across the Woodrow Wilson bridge via Interstate 495 or better known as the Capital Beltway. It’s a very historic city from the early days of the American Revolution and colonial era to the Civil War and beyond. Fort Ward is one of a ring of forts that were built by the Union Army to protect the District of Columbia and is located in the city. The city is mostly populated by people working for the federal government or for private agencies doing work on federal contracts. The Department of Defense, Institute of Defense Analyses, and U.S. Patent and Trademark offices are also located in the city. The historic center of the city is known as Old Town; it’s a vibrant area of old row homes that are used for residences, shops, boutiques, bars, and restaurants. The largest landmark, at 333 feet high, that sits up on a hill is the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, dedicated to the first president and mason. It’s a beautiful landmark with breathtaking architectural features inside and out with a scenic view of the river and city below.

The Alexandria (VA) Fire Department is very old and dates back to 1774 and has George Washington as one of its earliest members. Today the fire department has just over 250 personnel operating out of 10 stations within 2 Battalions; there are 9 engine companies and 2 truck companies, both which operate tractor drawn aerials because of the tight streets and alleys in the older sections of the city. The department also operates as part of the Northern Virginia Hazardous Materials team and maintains units in technical rescue, marine operations, and a special operations team. The Marine division has two inflatable Zodiac boats and one 50-foot Metalcraft fireboat known as the Vigilant, which has two 3,400-gpm pumps and four monitor nozzles on it. The department also operates a light and air unit, a foam trailer, a mass decontamination trailer, a rescue squad, a special hazards unit, and an ATV for special events.

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Recently the department accepted delivery of a Seagrave tractor-drawn aerial (TDA) on a Marauder chassis. The apparatus is painted black over red, and the aerial ladder is also painted black while the trailer’s compartments have roll-up doors that aren’t painted. There are three black reflective lines running midway up on the cab and then along the lower section of the trailer section of the rig. The tiller’s cage is painted black in its entirety with 205 gold leaf letters on the doors and rear of the tiller cage. The aerial has black signage with gold leaf lettering stating Alexandria Fire Dept—Hook and Ladder Company and an Alexandria Virginia Fire Department seal on both sides of the ladder. The rear of the apparatus has ladder and tool storage compartments with NFPA-compliant reflective safety chevrons attached to it. The cab has a painted front recess bumper, which has a Federal Q2B siren and two Grover air horns mounted on it. There are Rosco Accu-style mirrors that are painted black on the cab, while the tiller cage has two VelVac mirrors mounted on it for the tiller operator’s visibility. For overall driver safety, there are three Rosco rear-view cameras—one mounted to each side of the cab and one on the rear of the apparatus. The cab also sports H.O. Bostrom seating throughout, air conditioning and a Kussmaul Pump Plus air compressor with a shoreline battery charger with an air quick release.

The unit has Alcoa aluminum wheels, with the trailer having Ridewell Air Ride suspension while the cab has semi-elliptical springs. For ease of maintenance and for increased lubrication, there is an SKF autolubrication system with 36 points. The truck is also equipped with Hannay electrical cord reels on each side of the trailer. The truck is equipped with Duo Safety portable ladders. Oon the left side of the trailer, there is a 28-foot extension ladder mounted on the outboard side and a 16-foot roof on the inboard side. The right side of the trailer has a 24-foot extension on the outboard side and a 16-foot roof on the inboard side. In the rear ladder compartments are a 45-foot three-section extension ladder, 35- and 28-foot extension ladder and a 20-foot folding ladder. The aerial ladder has an 18-foot roof ladder mounted on the outside of the bed section of the aerial. On the trailer’s right-side upper deck sits a Little Giant multipurpose ladder while the left side has a 10-foot extension ladder mounted on it. There’s a ladder pipe hose storage box on the upper left side of the trailer while the aerial ladder is prepiped with a TFT Monsoon Monitor with remote control features. The apparatus boasts a Whelen emergency lighting package, which includes numerous LED light bars, warning lights, flood lights, spotlights, and LED dome lights in the cab and tiller cage.

The trailer’s large compartments transverse the apparatus. The first large compartment back from the turntable has the company’s Stokes basket on the upper shelf, with elevator poles and tools, extension cord and pig-tails, and an exhaust fan support bracket stored next to it on the driver’s side of the rig. Mounted below this shelf are two exhaust fans, a Tempest power blower, a Blow Hard battery-operated fan, and a rope bag. On the opposite side of this transverse compartment is a gas-powered Tempest exhaust fan and another Blow Hard battery-operated fan. What is unique on this fan is there are two wood door chocks on a carabiner and rope attached to the fan’s handle which can be used to keep doors open to help ventilate the structure. Stored next to the opposite end of the stokes are some more electric cords. The next transverse compartment has saw storage on both sides of the trailer on the bottom shelf; each has a Uni-Fire chain saw and there is a Uni-Fire rotary saw on the officer’s side while the driver’s side has a Husqavarna rotary saw. There are individual brackets attached to the roll-out shelf to hold the saws and canister brackets to hold fuel cans and bar oil. On the compartment’s side wall, there is a stationary attachment pin for extra rotary saw blades to be stored. The upper shelf of this compartment has Akron portable light and electrical cord reels, A-frame portable lights, the Metro (subway) toolbox and warning device, and other extension cords mounted on it. Truck 205 is not only pretty to look at with its gorgeous paint scheme but it is also laid out with firefighting in mind with the various positions its tools and equipment are stored for ease and access for the firefighter to retrieve.

MICHAEL N. CIAMPO is a 34-year veteran of the fire service and a lieutenant in the Fire Department of New York. Previously, he served with the District of Columbia Fire Department. He has a bachelor’s degree in fire science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. He is the lead instructor for the FDIC Truck Essentials H.O.T. program. He wrote the Ladders and Ventilation chapters for Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I and II (Fire Engineering, 2009) and the Bread and Butter Portable Ladders DVD and is featured in “Training Minutes” truck company videos on He also writes the back page column ON FIRE in Fire Engineering.

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