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Alameda Fire Department Takes Delivery of New, Tractor-drawn Aerial Ladder Truck

Almost one month to the date that Alameda voters rejected a sales tax increase that would have spent new revenues on equipment purchases for the Alameda Fire Department, the Department took delivery of a new tractor-drawn aerial ladder truck.

The City of Alameda and the Alameda firefighters union lobbied voters heavily to pass Measure C on June 5th, saying that it would fund the replacement of aging police and fire vehicles.

On Tuesday, the Alameda Fire department took delivery of the new ladder truck which includes a seat for a “tiller operator” at the rear of the vehicle. This rear steering capability improves maneuverability of the vehicle on narrow streets.

The truck was budgeted for in the 2012 fiscal year budget, and replaces an aerial ladder truck at Fire Station #1. Vehicles that are replaced typically go into a reserve fleet managed by the Department.

Training for the new truck model began earlier this year with a loaner vehicle from the San Francisco Fire Department. The new Alameda truck made its debut in yesterday’s Fourth of July parade, and is expected to be put into service later this year.

New Alameda aerial ladder truck with tiller operator provision in rear of vehicle.

New Alameda tractor-drawn tiller aerial firefighting truck

14 comments to Alameda Fire Department Takes Delivery of New, Tractor-drawn Aerial Ladder Truck

  • cg

    To paraphrase the announcer from the old radio show “Superman”: “Able to spray tall buildings from a single truck”. Plz refresh my memory: how many tall buildings do we have in Alameda that might potentially benefit from having this truck in the armamentarium?

  • cg

    Are you mocking me, David?

  • Seth

    I’m a firefighter who lives in Alameda, though I work for another fire department. I’m still relatively new to the island. I’m personally glad to know that the fire department here is still investing in apparatus.

    CG, in answer to your question about the number of buildings that would benefit from a ladder truck, should they catch fire:
    Every building on Shore Line drive
    Every building on Park
    Every building on Webster
    Every 2+ story Victorian on the island.
    Every 2+ story apartment complex on the island
    Every school and library building
    Most of the buildings west of Main St near the Naval base.
    This list is by no measure exhaustive.

    Trucks (as opposed to engines) specialize in forcible entry, ventilation, search, and, of course, rescue. Truck companies are vital to urban firefighting (yes, Alameda counts as urban).

    What’s more, even for smaller structures, the hydraulic ladder can be more efficient than ground ladders. The tiller truck allows for greater maneuverability than rigid apparatus, too.

    I hope that answers your question.

  • Seth,

    I think the bigger issue people have with the new truck – and you are probably aware of the recent sales tax measure – is that the City of Alameda and the firefighters lobbied heavily to pass the sales tax measure claiming that they needed the money for new fire apparatus. All the time knowing that this truck was on order and already budgeted.

    People are further disgusted by the tens of thousands of dollars that the local firefighters union poured into the November 2010 election, to get Gilmore, Tam and Bonta elected, who promptly fired the former city manager and brought in Russo, who then put the sales tax measure on the ballot. Many people perceive the sales tax measure and these new vehicles as payback to the Alameda firefighters for their campaign support.

    Further, the truck that this new vehicle replaced was a 1991 model, with roughly 80,000 miles on it or less. I’ve been doing some research, and that’s nothing for a diesel truck, assuming it’s been maintained and doesn’t have excessive engine run time. I’ve found all sorts of duty cycle information to support this, including sources that say that modern trucks are designed to be refurbished at 20 years and go for another 10. The argument that AFD trucks are 20 years old and need to be replaced doesn’t wash.

    Here’s one reference.

  • Seth

    I’m not going to touch the politics with a 10′ pike pole.

    I will say that fire trucks are heavy and take a beating under normal use. The paper you linked to listed life expectancy for an aerial to be less than what Truck 1(1991) has managed to live.

    I don’t know what the run hours are. It’s important to understand that trucks and engines spend a lot of time stationary with the engine and pto pumps and/or generators running. This allows for pumping water, scene lighting, smoke removal, ladder power, nozzle control at the tip of the ladder, and hydraulic power (sometimes the “jaws of life” are powered by a pto), to name a few reasons.

    Short trips (such as emergency calls a few blocks away) at relatively high speeds are hard on the engines. Those trips are especially hard on engines that have not been running and are cold.

    Station 1 is not very far from a very large body of salt water – that can also be hard on components. As far as refurbishing “modern” apparatus after 20 years goes, that sounds good. That may apply to the new truck. I have no idea if it applies to the 21 year old truck in question.

    I can’t really be too mad at the fire department for securing a replacement for a 21 year old fire truck. Your own article says they plan to use it as a reserve, which is what the departments in that study are also doing (20yrs active, 10 yrs reserve). Ultimately, having a new front-line truck in operation will only add safety and longevity to the fleet.

    Long digressions aside, I hope I have answered CG’s question from his or her original comment.

  • Seth – I think we agree that age of the truck in years is only one measurement of “age” of the vehicle.

    Miles, engine run time, run time of the pumps and other components all factor in. But the City of Alameda never presented any of that data during the campaign, only the complaint about 20 year old vehicles – while they knew they had already ordered at least one new vehicle.

    As for short trips being hard on engines, I’ve been told that Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant was trying to find ways (e.g. Safeway delivery) for AFD to avoid using trucks for runs to the supermarket for groceries.

    As I said before, I don’t think anyone is upset over the new truck – there is a pre-existing $3 million equipment replacement reserve fund after all – so much as feeling misled by the City and the Fire Department during the Measure C campaign.

  • Seth

    Ha, I don’t know about Safeway delivery. That’s not really an “emergency call” – more of a morning stretch for the engine and transmission.

    When an emergency call comes in, I’m pretty sure they just start up the rig and go out. As smooth as we try to be running to emergency calls, I have to say drivers on the road can do some crazy stuff. Hard braking and swerving are sometimes necessary; fire trucks and fire engines are heavy. Short runs with lots of stopping and accelerating back to speed (not much more than the speed limit) takes its toll.

    The ride to the grocery store doesn’t add a whole lot of wear and tear – think nice Sunday drive – an opportunity to run the engine at reasonable RPM and warm it up in the morning. Normal driving can be good for components, too. Some stuff breaks if it just sits – especially if it is then asked to perform at top capacity for two to four hours straight.

    How many more 20 year old engines and trucks need replacing? Just because they had budgeted for this truck doesn’t mean that there are not others that are getting worn out and are in need of replacement.

    At the bottom of page O-4, it looks like the fire department would like to replace several apparatus.

    Maybe there is a revenue problem. I know my fire department has seen double digit drops in revenue. We have made concessions, as have Alameda firefighters. Measure C did not pass. We shall see how things go.

  • Barbara

    Politician ALWAYS use “hostage negotiation” using schools, police and firefighters to milk public as much as they can. The problem is that schools, police and firefighters are willing participants in politicians’ efforts, and they willingly ignore the status and responsibility as public servants.
    Because of that, people of Alameda start to see the scams the elite of politicians, schools, police and firefighters are willingly perform, like more taxes, heavy contributions to politicians who in turn give them favorable contracts,…and who is paying for it?

    Us, people of Alameda, property owners, and we do not have much in return except fear mongering and empty promises.

    This has to stop! I spoke with newly hired policeman and they are happy to be employed, same with young firefighters and school teachers, it is an old establishment that is a big problem. They run the show recklessly, and they are using others to get what they want: high pay and high pension benefits…

  • Barb

    And Alameda just got a grant to pay for 6 firefighters. Since we have about 20 too many, including 21 Fire Captains, think about how much money we could save if we followed the recommendations in the City’s paid for study and closed Station 3, staffed Sation 5 (home of the 2000 hours of porn video) only in the day time? And then paid for the 6 with the grant? That would free up enough money to start cleaning up Jean Sweeney park. And with the grant for the Marina at Alameda Point, we could simply use the money to build berths and start renting them out at a great profit.

  • Barbara


  • cg

    Thank you, Seth!

  • Seth

    no problem, cg!

  • ALAMEDA FIRE: Live fire training at AFD Training Center (Alameda Point) today, 9 am - 12 pm, and tomorrow, 9 am - 4… ,
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