By Mike Ciampo
The Rendezvous Hook & Ladder Company 4 is part of the West Babylon (NY) Fire Department, located in Suffolk County on Long Island, New York. West Babylon is the largest hamlet in the Town of Babylon. Originally, it was a vacation getaway in the early 1900s. By the 1920s and 1930s, much of the landscape had vacation bungalows built on it, which soon would turn into year-round homes. Post World War II, the population began to boom with the introduction of the train to Long Island and the increase of automobile transportation. Dutch farmers found the soil ideal for growing tulips and dahlias, which helped the area become a thriving flower industry supplier and bulk nursery provider. As populations began to grow and people sought out a nice area to raise a family, the area began to blossom into a wonderful residential community, which now has everything from homes, shopping, lakes, parks, and ocean access.
The West Babylon Fire Department operates out of three stations that house five engine companies, one truck company, one heavy rescue, three ambulances, a special operations division, and fire police division. The heavy rescue is a 2016 Pierce Velocity single-axle rescue equipped with roll-up doors and regular hinged compartment doors. Some of these hinged compartment doors actually fold downward and create a step for access into the compartments. The rescue responds as the first-due apparatus out of its station on residential alarms and second due on commercial alarms following the company's ladder apparatus. The heavy rescue is painted black over red on the cab and apparatus body. There are three reflective black stripes (a thick middle stripe with a thinner one on top and bottom) that run on the lower half of the cab onto the lower half of the rescue body.
On the body, the striping runs low then diagonally upward then back horizontally to the rear of the body. In the rear section of striping the unit’s designation 1-9-15 is embedded onto the doors. On the tail board side of the rig, it’s equipped with the safety chevron reflective striping. Also running along the crew cab separating the black and red is a gold leaf stripe; a stripe also runs along the body below the bottom of the roll-up doors. The unit also has beautiful gold leaf work. On the front of the cab below the windshield is the unit's name: Rendezvous. On the front cab doors is a Hook & Ladder Co. 4 Maltese cross under an arched Rendezvous. On the crew cab doors, West Babylon is positioned, and on the rescue body's upper portion is the Fire Rescue designation. On the officer's side of the cab, the unit's patch is displayed, and on the chauffeur side of the cab is a memorial tribute dedicated to Ex-Captain Michael Greene who was an LODD on June 16, 2006. Mike was electrocuted while removing a tarp off of a burnt restaurant. In 2005, prior to his death, he and his company successfully conducted a search of a private dwelling and removed a victim. He was honored as the Firefighter of the Year and was awarded a silver medal of valor from the Suffolk County (NY) Fire Academy. The tribute graphic is of Mike's helmet with the words "Above The Rest" written above it. There are other tribute stickers on the upper portion of the rescue body: American flags with an American eagle and the World Trade Center adorn both sides of the apparatus.
Rescue 1-9-15 sits five in the crew cab, with the officer and chauffeur in the front of the cab. There is a light tower positioned on the roof of the cab and the apparatus is equipped with a full complement of Whelen LED warning and scene lights. There's also a rear directional and warning light bar mounted in between the upper and lower compartment; it's protected by a diamond plate box so it's not damaged during any transitioning of tools or equipment off the upper section of the apparatus. Inside of the rescue body is a mini command post which has four bands of radios including an 800 MHz. On the chauffeur side of the rescue body, there is also a larger window for the command center to look out of.
The rear compartment of the rig has an outer roll-up compartment door which is labeled with the number 15 in large letters with shadowing and the word RESCUE over it. There is a unique warning below the unit designation: “Keep Back Life Saving Equipment." Beneath this door there's a hinged compartment door that folds down and serves as an access stair so firefighters have better access to the equipment stored inside. Behind the roll-up door are two aluminum diamond plate doors that keep the portable ladders secured in their storage rack. In the rack are a roof ladder, a 24-foot extension ladder, a 35-foot three-section ladder, and a suitcase ladder. Also behind the doors is a storage rack for pike poles. Seven poles are stored in the horizontal sleeves: four-foot, a six-foot, two eight-footers, a 10-foot, and two 12-foot hooks. Just to the left side of this storage area is a narrow slot for the storage of a backboard.
Beneath the ladder and hook storage is an upper roll-out tray that has auto extrication equipment stored on it. Toward the left side of the tray are tool bags with assorted hand tools in them, traffic cones, and Paratech rescue and stabilization struts. On the right side of this tray there are three storage areas for a 12-ton bottle jack and two Sidewinder rescue jacks. Just behind the jacks are some short pieces of large-diameter hose that can be used to cover cut posts on automobiles. Located below this tray is another pull-out tray used for storing step chocks, angle chocks, and assorted cribbing. There are also some short pieces of smaller-diameter hose that can also be slid over cut automobile posts for protection.
Rendezvous Hook & Ladder Company 4 is very proud of its rescue apparatus, and it will surely serve the department’s needs and community for years to come.
MICHAEL N. CIAMPO is a 31-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 B.A. in fire science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He is the lead instructor for the FDIC 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, he also wrote the Bread & Butter Portable Ladders DVD. He is featured in “Training Minutes” truck company videos on www.FireEngineering.com. In addition, he writes the back page column, “On Fire,” in Fire Engineering and Compartment Corner for www.fireapparatus.com.