Good afternoon, I have a question about tower ladder operations? When the tower ladders are deployed and are in operation, there’s either one or two members inside the bucket. how are the other members on that truck assigned?
If the TL is being special called as a TL, the unit will stay together. TL members usually assist with getting the supply lines stretched and into rig. It is company decision on who the two members are up in the bucket. Some it's the outside team, others in is a different combination. One member stays at pedestal, others will keep an eye on bucket and supply lines. For extended ops, extreme weather, the team in the bucket will need to be relieved. If the tower ladder was already at scene and operational at a structural fire, chief might relieve them of their duties to start an exterior stream. Members would already be at assigned positions, so to get TL in operation, people need to stop what they are doing.
As with most things on this job, the individual neighborhood drives the SOP‘s of the tower ladder operations in question. With the drastic difference in building construction throughout the city, neighborhoods that are mainly private dwellings will have drastically different company policies when compared to a company that is surrounded by high-rise and mega high-rise office or residential buildings or NYCHA buildings. Policies will be varied wildly in every facet right down to whether or not there is a new member at the turntable. The companies that don’t keep a member at the turntable will argue that it’s a waste of a perfectly good firemen, who in their opinion, is just spectating from the turntable. On the other hand, the companies that do keep a member on that turntable will tell you that the guy is acting as the Johnny on the spot for the operation—ready to position that basket to anyone(member or civilian) that may present at a window or roof line, as long as the window is within the scrub area of that bucket.
With all the variations that come in to play throughout the city, one uniform fact remains to every TL in the city: A well positioned tower ladder is the most versatile tool accessible to the members of the FDNY. On the contrary, a poorly positioned or not positioned at all tower ladder might as well be replaced by a much smaller six passenger toolbox rescue-type rig because if the guys are not willing to go to great (and sometimes frustrating) lengths to position and utilize their rig, than it should have been left at the fire house all together. As any tower ladder chauffeur will tell you, there is nothing more challenging than responding to a phone alarm, where there is probably work, through a congested neighborhood in the big, slow pig that is the Tower Ladder—especially in the 95-foot variations.
If you haven’t noticed before the interesting, unique, not to mention challenging positions TL companies are able to squeeze their apparatus into, take notice in the future. With that, hopefully you’ll have a newfound respect for TL companies, in particular the chauffeurs, who not only got the men to scene (most importantly) safely but also positioned the rig strategically (With the help of a much needed guide FF— Roof or OV) in anticipation of making a meaningful difference at the job. There is something to be said about the tower ladder companies throughout the city that take the time to get their rig “into the game” whether first due or arriving at a multiple, which obviously requires guys to get a little more creative and think outside the box and play a game of inches. With that have fun and get creative with your rig!
I was assigned to a tl as a firefighter. Senior chauffeurs taught us when responding as extra truck, look where everyone else responded from. Would loop around and try to come down block from other direction. Sometimes even back in to get bucket in play
To manlt point:
Surveying the building and looking for that road or path less traveled is an art form and very advantageous at certain jobs! It takes time, experience, patience, and is generally very frustrating and in vane. But when successful, it’s noticed.
Last point I’ll make is with regard to all of the developments in modern firefighting technology, and one of the most fantastic new tools a company has at its disposal is surprisingly nothing other than an iPad of all things!
Presently, every aerial, tower ladder, and engine company has been issued an iPad to be placed in the rig. In addition to lending a helping hand with map directions to unfamiliar boxes or distant relocations & multiples way outside a companies normal response area, Backstep firefighters are able to pull up the building, block, street, location of hydrants, etc. etc. all in high resolution satellite photos, which will aide them in positioning for success as opposed to just showing up completely blind or with a Hagstrom map. Traditionalist & old salts will probably roll their eyes at an iPad on a fire truck but it’s a tool that might lend a helping hand in certain instances , but like all tools, they cannot be relied 100% on as it can and will fail, like anything else. So make sure you’re proficient without it. We all know there’s no time for iPads on first alarm assignment boxes, however it just might give you a leg up when driving to a foreign box.
I spent 28 years in the FDNY most of it, working in Tower Ladders in Manhattan's Lower East Side, Midtown and also in the South Bronx. Generally, the roof firefighter and the Outside Vent Firefighter operate in or from the Tower Ladder Basket. The Ladder Company Chauffer has a must duty to be at the pedestal control at the base of the T.L. boom. The officer and the Forcible Entry team goes inside the fire building for ventilation, entry, isolation, and search. If the Tower Ladder is called or ordered to do large caliber stream operations, the Roof =roof man and OVM =outside vent man, go in the basket. the T.L. Co. Chauffer stays at the pedestal control box at the base of the T.L. Boom. The officer also goes in the basket most of the time. The forcible entry team, stays with the apparatus., to help stretch water supply lines for the T.L. and then to act as safety watchmen to look for any dangers to the stability of the T.L. and any other thing that would endanger the T.L. or the members in and on the T.L. The Forcible Entry teams acts as a safety team. The forcible entry team is also there to relive the members in the basket, the T.L. Chauffer in prolonged operations or if the members in the basket get injured, and to help remove people rescued with the T.L. safely to the street.
Captain Bob Rainey FDNY Engine 26 retired