Aerial fire trucks: How to better understand them

How well do you and your firefighters know your aerial apparatus? It’s not just an operational proficiency question, but a fiscal policy and marketing question.

Can you and your people explain in plain English why the community has or needs a piece of aerial apparatus?

The cost for an aerial apparatus — ladder, elevating platform, ladder platform, etc. — ranges from $750,000 to over $1 million depending upon type and model.

Such a price tag gets local government officials and their constituents questioning such an expense despite the benefit to the community. This can be especially true in suburban communities where few, if any, tall buildings exist.

Whether the discussion regards a first-time purchase or a replacement, the first question those outside the fire service ask is typically: Why is it needed when there are no tall buildings or high-rises?

And the follow up question is, How often is it being used? For non-fire service folks — especially those paying the bills — these seem like reasonable questions.

There’s never been a higher degree of scrutiny for fire department operations than there is today. Forget watchdog journalists; everyone with a smartphone and an Instagram or Twitter account is a journalist.

So it’s extremely important that every member of your fire department understands the general public’s perspective and limited knowledge of fire service operations.

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