Harrisburg (PA) Fire Apparatus Can Handle Narrower Roads

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The Harrisburg Fire Department recently bought a new ladder truck for $932,523 to address tight situations and more. The city took possession of the new tractor-drawn aerial last month and unveiled it to the public Nov. 21 with Santa on board during the Holiday Parade.

The city hasn’t owned a tractor-drawn aerial for 35 years. The city paid for the truck through a county gaming grant ($466,998) and the Harrisburg Volunteer Fireman’s Relief Association ($465,525.) The association is financed through a tax paid by fire insurance companies.

The truck provides the city with its first 100-foot tall ladder and offers other distinct advantages that give firefighters more options during emergencies, said Fire Chief Brian Enterline.

Although the truck is longer than other trucks in the city’s fleet, the new vehicle weighs less, has two fewer tires and can fit into tighter spaces because of its smaller “jack spread,” which measures the width of a truck with its stabilizers deployed.

The truck can navigate tight intersections quickly with two drivers, including one who sits in a rear compartment and controls the back end.

The roomier truck can hold more salvage equipment, Enterline said, which will allow firefighters to protect homes faster with quick access to tarps and wet vacuums. Before, that equipment was stored in a trailer.

The truck can reach higher places with its longer ladder, but firefighters still won’t be able to use it to reach the tops of many of the city’s high rises. Manufacturers don’t make trucks with ladders that big, Enterline said, and all of the city’s buildings taller than 75 feet have built-in sprinkler systems.

The truck still needs to be outfitted with tools and drivers still need to complete training, so residents won’t likely see the truck in action until March, Enterline said. He plans to send it to every building fire.

City officials have been trying to get the new truck since 2009 as part of an overall effort to update their aging fleet. At that time, many city trucks dated back to the 1980s. Now, the city’s oldest frontline truck dates back to 1997. The city still has older trucks in reserve.

Many fire departments in recent decades abandoned tractor-drawn aerial trucks to save manpower because they require two drivers. Departments instead favored toward tower trucks, which were smaller.

But now many departments are now going back to the aerial vehicles, Enterline said, because tower trucks are increasing in size and the aerials have superior maneuverability on city streets.

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