South Congaree, SC (Paul Kirby) – The Lexington County Fire Service has bought and is currently running a new style aerial truck that’s different than the ones they’ve used in the past. According to Deputy Chief Fulmer, Tower 33 is a mid-mount 75-foot ladder truck. These types of trucks are often referred to as a straight stick style ladder. The straight stick ladders the county had been using in the past were rear turntable models. These are spread across the county at Corley Mill, Chapin, and South Congaree. Lexington County also has a mid-mount tower ladder that is stationed in Lexington, something different than a straight stick.
The significant change the county is making is where the base of the hydraulic, extendable ladder attaches to the truck itself. The new trucks have a turntable that is mounted and rotates just behind the passenger compartment more in the middle of the truck. The old style the fire service had been buying attached and rotated on a turntable just forward of the back end. Chief Fulmer said that switch from rear to mid-mounted turntable was a decision based on ease of use and a lower travel height.
Straight sticks are normally also lighter and lower than a platform aerial truck. Straight sticks and towers will both flow water from a nozzle on the end of the ladder that can be directed by an operator from its controls at the base of the ladder. They also have high output lights that can turn night into day when the ladder is raised, and those high-intensity lights are cut on.
A platform truck normally provides more stability for firefighters once it’s raised and the crew is working from the basket at the end of the ladder. Straight sticks are often more maneuverable when responding in a tight environment. Both are used in rescues to recover people from high places. They both allow firefighters to enter a structure on the upper levels when necessary. With a tower, firefighters can be carried up and down by the basket. On a straight stick, they normally climb the ladder after it’s raised.
All the aerial trucks that Lexington County uses carry water and fire hoses for supply and to attack the fire. They are also loaded with special tools and equipment for prying, chopping, cutting, pulling, and other specific work that the men and women assigned to the ladder trucks often do.
The new Ladder 33 is currently running out of South Congaree or wherever it’s needed until Lexington County completes its new South Region Headquarters on Sandhills Parkway off Charleston Highway. It will then be moved there permanently.