Aerial platforms offer a safe rescue method at heights

Central Finland Rescue Department is located in Jyväskylä, where 47 fire stations work together to serve an area spanning 20,000 km2. 350 permanent employees and 850 volunteers join forces to protect the region’s 300,000 residents.

The Rescue Department has a long history with Bronto Skylift. They currently have four Brontos in service, with their first dating back to 1985. According to Technical Manager Kimmo Hirvonen, aerial platforms meet Central Finland’s needs best.

The most critical intended use case for our aerial platforms is to rescue people from high locations, but mostly we’ve used them to save property. It’s not possible to do roof construction or deliver many things to rooftops without the help of aerial devices. Safety is the most important feature of the aerial device. When a firefighter can rise up the side of the building, they can see better. Then the target can be extinguished safely from above without the risk that something falls and hits the firefighter. Even a flash flame from a window can’t reach you.

Kimmo Hirvonen, Technical Manager, Central Finland Rescue Department

In the region’s largest city, Jyväskylä, concrete decks and some of the streets themselves can withstand a maximum load of 32 tons. That means that the total weight and reach of any new device must be carefully planned.

The Rescue Department’s new Bronto Skylift F46RPXER aerial device, offers a maximum of 46 metres in outreach. In addition to their vertical reach, Hirvonen highlights the aerial device’s horizontal reach, which in their new model is about 30 metres.

These days, buildings are situated in surprising places. It may not always be possible to position the aerial platform directly next to a target – there may be obstacles in the way, or the area may not be able to hold the weight. In these situations, horizontal reach is critical.

Kimmo Hirvonen, Technical Manager, Central Finland Rescue Department

In the summer of 2020, Jyväskylä had a large fire in a nursing home. 168 residents were evacuated without injury during the blaze.

The fire caused a significant amount of damage, although the worst was avoided. Three Brontos were working at the scene of the fire, and with their help we were able to get up to the rooftop level of the building and extinguish the flames. Thanks to the aerial platforms, the damage was greatly reduced. 

Kimmo Hirvonen, Technical Manager, Central Finland Rescue Department

New technology reinforces safety

Over the years, aerial platforms have become safer and easier to use with the help of electronics and automation.

There are a number of new features on their new aerial platform that increase user safety. Using the tablet, all functions of the aerial can be performed from a distance. For example, thermal and video cameras can be operated using the tablet.

“If the operator tries to make the wrong move or comes close to colliding with something, the Bronto prevents it and triggers a warning. There’s no need to push the limits of risk, because the Bronto will take care of it. The user can also get a lot of situational awareness about where to move and what’s going on in any given moment. Ease of use speeds everything up. Upon arrival at the operating site, Bronto’s auto levelling feature helps you get to work straight away. For example, if something goes wrong in a nearby industrial area with explosives production, we can sacrifice the machine to extinguish the fire without exposing firefighters to risk. When we started looking around for a new aerial platform, we decided to get the best in Finland. And we think we achieved that. We’re very satisfied,” says Kimmo Hirvonen, Technical Manager, Central Finland Rescue Department.

Training and maintenance bring certainty

The latest purchase included training. Main operators were selected from four shifts, and they attended a three-day training course held by Bronto Skylift. These operators gained further training experience by instructing others with the support of Bronto Skylift’s training staff.

All the trainees had already used Brontos in the past, so there was a lot of familiarity with the use of the new aerial device. The training kicked off with a comprehensive overview on safety and responsible use of the aerial platform. After that, we practiced using the functions one by one. We went through the whole process and learned it rather well during training. We also went through several exceptional situations, covering out-of-the-ordinary things that can happen and how they can be resolved safely, or how to complete the operational task at hand. Only trained firefighters are allowed to operate the Bronto.

Kimmo Hirvonen, Technical Manager, Central Finland Rescue Department

Bronto Skylift performs maintenance on the aerial platforms yearly and carries out more comprehensive maintenance every ten years. Hirvonen recommends a remote connection for each aerial platform, which speeds up problem solving in various situations.

Maintenance has gone extremely well. We’ve received comprehensive support, including tips about what else could be serviced at the same time. The Bronto Skylift team understands how to provide service and they have a deep understanding of the contexts where the aerial devices are used.We have a remote connection in three aerial platforms – enabled by the Bronto Compass control system – and it’s extremely good. I recommend it to everyone. If a problem comes up, or if there’s something you’re concerned about, we just give them a call. Their support service connects to the device and locates the error. They can tell by looking at the device log if the aerial has been misused and what kind of sensor information has been received. The remote connection can pay for itself even during the first fault condition. We’ve received a spare part in just a couple of hours thanks to the remote connection.

Kimmo Hirvonen, Technical Manager, Central Finland Rescue Department

Hirvonen is satisfied with the cooperation with Bronto Skylift.

When considering the big picture, our work together has gone extremely well. They’re a service-focused staff that have the will and want to help whenever we ask them. A truly professional, determined team.

Kimmo Hirvonen, Technical Manager, Central Finland Rescue Department

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