Commonly known as the “Theme Park Capital of the World,” the City of Orlando is also nicknamed “The City Beautiful” and is the county seat of Orange County, Florida. Orlando is centrally located in the state and also hosts numerous conventions and conferences. In 2014 these attractions and events drew in more than 62 million visitors to the city. This bustling city is protected by the Orlando (FL) Fire Department, which is only one of 15 departments in America to have an ISO 1 classification and is an Internationally Accredited Agency, which is administered by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI). Maintaining these accreditations is a significant undertaking and requires the combined efforts of all members of the department. The fire department is so proud of these accomplishments that it has placed the CFAI accreditation label and ISO rating on its apparatus. The ISO rating is displayed over the Maltese cross in a banner design on the front cab doors. The department was originally organized in 1885 with volunteer firefighters before becoming a fully paid department in 1923. Currently, it has just over 500 firefighters working out of 17 firehouses protecting 111 square miles.
Located adjacent to the entrance to Universal Orlando Theme Park sits Station 10, housing Engine 10, Tower 10, and Rescue 10. Besides serving Universal, it also provides fire and EMS protection to other theme parks in the area, commercial occupancies, midrise and high-rise hotels, garden apartments, and single-family dwellings. They also cover a large portion of the heavily traveled Interstate 4 and Florida Turnpike that intersect in their response district. Tower 10 is currently assigned a 2014 Sutphen 95-foot tower ladder with a 1,500-gpm and 300 gallon water tank. It is painted in the department’s black over red paint scheme, with a gold, black, and red reflective stripes pattern running down the entire side of the fire apparatus. The base of the boom and hydraulic lifting cylinders are also painted black, which gives the apparatus a very unique look. Mounted on the crew cab door is a sticker with Firehouse 10’s motto “Nothin’ But a Thing” and logo of a fictional superhero stretching a hoseline and carrying extrication jaws. It is affixed just under the words “Outstanding service since 1885”. On each side of the boom on the apparatus, there is a large sign mounted with the “City of Orlando” designation in the center, the city seal, and a Maltese cross with a large 10 mounted in the center of it. On the rear roll-up compartment doors there is a large number 10 with the word Tower embedded over it, which is also made with reflective stripping. The apparatus body has roll-up doors and hinged compartment doors over the wheel wells. It also has portable ladders stored on each side over the compartments. When you look at these ladders you will notice that they have a painted stripe on them, informing firefighters of the balance point of the ladder (mid point of the ladder so a firefighter can easily recognize it, remove it from the apparatus and carry it).
The two left rear compartments are set up as extrication compartments and also carry some other equipment. Starting with the rear compartment, there are two hydraulic lines mounted in the upper section of the compartment on electrical rewind reels that both hold 100’ of hose. Mounted below the reels is a TNT two stage hydraulic pump mounted on a roll-out compartment shelf. This unit powers the TNT extrication tools and the tray is usually pulled out to expel carbon monoxide when it is running. On the sides of the power unit, there are extrication tools mounted. On the left side there is a spreader and on the right side there’s a cutter which are held in place by brackets. Also on the tray is a small fuel can to refill the unit during extended operations.
In the compartment just behind the left side wheel well is some of the remaining extrication equipment. On the stationary top shelf there are additional hydraulic hoses for use with the tools. These hoses can be used to extend the reel’s length or if the unit has to be taken off the apparatus and used remotely from the truck. Sitting below the hoses is an extra large ram (60 inches), which can’t be stored like the other rams because of its length. Also on this shelf, is a metal channel “L” extrication bracket (usually placed up against the B post and sits on the rocker panel to push the front end dashboard of an auto upward) or as the department refers to them as the “Nelson Bar,” named for the firefighter who made it), which is used in conjunction with ram extending devices. Mounted below the shelf in tubular brackets on the right side of the compartment are three hydraulic rams (30, 40, and 50 inches) and one ram extension (12 inch) piece. Just to the side of these three rams, stored vertically against the wall, is a large plywood pad which is placed between the seat and rocker panel to protect the victim when a ram is being used. It also can be used as a leveling or protection pad when air bags are being deployed. In the area to the left of the rams sits a Tempest Power Blower with a red bag on it. This bag contains electrical cords and pigtails. On the left side wall of the compartment is a small oxygen and acetylene torch kit. This kit can be used to remove guard rail, steel posts or any heavier metal found at an auto extrication or collapse scene.
Tower 10 is a busy unit and responds to a wide variety of incidents and a multitude of auto accidents. The pride displayed with the cleanliness of the apparatus and equipment is a tribute to the dedication of the firefighters operating out of this station.
MICHAEL N. CIAMPO is a 30-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 author of “Compartment Corner” on www.fireapparatus.com. He is the lead instructor for the FDIC International Truck Essentials H.O.T. program. He wrote the Ladder chapter and co-authored the Ventilation chapter for Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I and II (Fire Engineering, 2009) and is featured in “Training Minutes” truck company videos on www.FireEngineering.com.