5 reasons to add an aerial platform to your firefighting toolkit8 February, 2024
Truck-mounted aerial platforms are among the most flexible solutions for firefighting and rescue. The articulating boom can extend in multiple directions, and the platform is large and robust. This enables a wide range of rescue options, a higher water flow, and easier access to more equipment.
Henri Willman, Fire and Rescue Product Manager for Bronto Skylift, provides a detailed look at why you might consider adding an aerial platform to your firefighting arsenal.
1. Quick to deploy, easy to set up
When minutes count, you need to get to the emergency site quickly. It helps if your first response unit has a short transportation length, making it quicker to manoeuvre in ordinary traffic and city streets. You can easily find the right combination of transport dimensions, working height, and weight for your city, as there are various specific features to choose from between models and size classes.
At an operation site, the vehicle can be parked very close to buildings or obstacles because the boom can rise to an 85-degree angle, and some models have little to no tail swing. Aerial platforms are also quick to set up. Their versatility starts from the ground up, with long outriggers that move promptly into action with automatic levelling. The outrigger length makes them effective on slopes – they can even be used to level the vehicle over ground obstacles provided that the safety of the position is confirmed by an operator.
The rescue cage and turntable can be easily accessed, and the integrated waterway and water monitor mean you’ll be ready to work with minimal prep time.
2. Unparalleled access – both up and over, and below-grade
Once at work, truck-mounted aerial platforms offer a wide range of firefighting and rescue options. Articulating booms make them ideal for reaching the rooftops of up to hundred-metre-high buildings. They’re also capable of reaching behind obstacles like parapets and chimneys. This ability can be further enhanced by a telescopic cage boom in some models.
Aerial platforms also offer access to below-ground operating scenarios. This includes reaching below bridges and accessing ponds, rivers, jetties and shafts. Permissible rescue reach varies from approximately 13 to 33 feet below ground.
“The most important aspect for us is the technology of APs [aerial platforms] that provides us more flexibility in vertical reach and access, as well as the higher carry weight of the basket when compared to a turntable ladder.”– Mr. Bilwachs, Operations Manager for Daimler Fire Brigade, Germany
3. Spacious and versatile working cage
An aerial platform offers a strong, steady elevated workspace for firefighters on long operations. The cage is large – with ample space for extra tools – and designed to bear extremely heavy loads, with weight limits ranging up to 1100 lb. Many aerial platforms can be fitted with options that add versatility for firefighting and rescue, e.g.:
- A stretcher carrier
- A dive ladder for water rescue
- An attachable winch for lifting materials or people
- Laser range finder
- Various video or thermal imaging cameras
”The flexible cage design helps us be fast and safe, even at a height of 260 feet.”– Mr Rajendra Chaudhary, Deputy Chief Officer, The Mumbai Fire Brigade, India
“The platform is also a rescue device. For example, you can rescue people together with an emergency medical professional – there is plenty of space and a big cage load of 1100 lb. Cage rotation is also a great feature. Wheelchairs can be easily fixed inside, a stretcher carrier can be floor mounted and you’ll still have enough space inside the cage for a medical professional and operator.”– Karl Heinz Faller, Chief of Voluntary Fire Brigade Seefeld, Austria
4. The cage offers a refuge to rescue the elderly, disabled or incapacitated
Aerial platforms offer a wide and accessible range of rescue options. First, the rotating cage allows access to various entry and exit points, like windows, regardless of how the unit is stationed on the ground. This removes any gap where someone could fall and makes the platform wheelchair accessible.
“The best feature of the Bronto [aerial platform] is that you can line the platform up directly with the window instead of leaving a gap, where someone could fall.”Lieutenant David Gates, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR), USA
Immediately after evacuation, the platform offers a stable space for victims to orient themselves. If the victim is very young, disabled, or elderly, this is a necessity. If the victim is incapacitated, the platform can accommodate a stretcher that can then be lowered down safely.
Some truck-mounted aerial platforms can be equipped with a stable rescue ladder that stretches alongside the boom, as a secondary escape route for fire fighters.
5. High waterflow and an integrated waterway
In terms of fire suppression, the robustness of the platform and cage allows a strong waterflow from 660 up to 3000 gallons per minute depending on the needed extinguishing capacity. The integrated waterway also enables continuous rotation of the turntable with safe hose connection at the ground level.
“The fixed water pipeline is better in aerial platforms when compared to turntable ladders. It’s immediately ready for use when the tank team has prepared the water supply, it provides a fast and easy connection to water inlets at the ground level of the unit, and a complete telescopic waterline with a 3600 l/min monitor with a throw range of at least 100-130 feet, even against the wind. With TTLs, firefighters have to handle the water pipeline themselves. That’s risky and requires more time management from firefighters. In addition, other important points are the stable construction of the ALP with perfect outreach, a large cage, and long cage boom.”
– Karl Heinz Faller, Chief of Voluntary Fire Brigade Seefeld, Austria.
Versatility and safety
In summary, the quick setup, unparalleled access, large rescue cage and high waterflow make aerial platforms a safe and efficient choice, especially in the following applications:
- Firefighting in dense urban areas, where buildings are close together
- Rescue from rooftops and water rescue
- Industrial firefighting
- Below ground-level operations