Crowd gathers at fire department open house and learns how the new 100-foot ladder truck operates

The new 100-foot ladder truck makes its debut on Saturday at the fire department's open house. (Photo by Mike Quayle)

Deputy Fire Chief David Flannery answers some frequently-asked questions


Why does a little town like Carlisle have so many fire trucks?

Carlisle has no municipal water and therefore no hydrants. We use natural water sources and cisterns in the newer developments for water when there is a fire. We carry a mile of large diameter hose and each truck has a high capacity pump. We can move water from point A to point B using the hose and pumps. In addition, all of our trucks have water tanks, the largest being engine 5 with 3,500 gallons of water.

We arrive at a fire with over 6,000 gallons on wheels and this is used to contain the fire while we are setting up the hose and pumps, sometime using mutual aid help from our neighbors. Additional tankers are also on the mutual aid response for areas of the town that have no water nearby.

Why does Carlisle need a 100 foot ladder truck.

The answer is simple. It is not so much the height that we require as most larger homes are 35 to 40 feet in height. It is the "reach" that we require. Often the truck cannot park very close to a dwelling because of physical landscape obstructions. The ladder truck needs to be able to reach the highest portion of a structure in order for firefighters to ventilate the building during a fire. A hole is cut in the roof at the highest point over the fire. This allows for all of the superheated gases and smoke to ventilate and allows for fresh air to come in at the bottom where firefighters enter to attack the fire. This is always a coordinated attack. The three main functions of the ladder truck are to rescue trapped victims, to ventilate the structure, and to rescue trapped firefighters if necessary and support firefighting operations.

The ladder is state-of-the-art for fire apparatus with the latest equipment and safety features. It also carries hose and water as well as a full complement of ground ladders. In addition, the truck has a hydraulic generator which operates off of the engine of the truck to power all of the lighting and power equipment. A rehabilitation area was designed into the rear cab of the truck. This area contains a food warmer, cooler, coffeemaker and beverage dispenser. This is a unique feature which was included in an effort to meet the physical and nutritional needs of firefighters working under physically demanding conditions for an extended period of time. Firefighter hydration is critical in order to maintain safety and performance.

Can this truck get up your driveway?

Carlisle's new fire engine may be able to do all the things the town wants it to do, especially in regard to newer homes too high for the old truck and ladder to reach — but can it get up your drive?

Deputy fire chief David Flannery says the new truck needs 12 feet for clearance and is eight feet wide. This is two feet higher than the old #5 tanker. He says it is a good idea to prune trees near roads and driveways every 3-4 years in any case, but this year Carlisle residents need to be thinking higher and ensure that driveways and private drives will be passable if there is a fire.

In the winter, snow and weighed-down limbs decrease passage space, as do low branches which grow out into the drive. Flannery says regular pruning not only clears a passageway, but helps prevent storm damage by taking out weakened limbs. Now, with relatively comfortable temperatures and open ground, is the best time to check your driveway and do any necessary pruning.

Carlisle Ladder 9 specifications

Some of the physical particulars of the truck include: 40 foot length, 12 foot height and 8 foot width. It has a 500 HP diesel engine, a 490 gallon water tank, a 1500 gallon per minute pump, weighs approximately 32 tons and has a 15 KW power plant (hydraulic generator ). It also carries a full complement of rescue tools including the "Jaws of Life". Training on aerial ladder operations began more than a year ago and the truck was delivered on May 25, 2002. Active ladder training is ongoing and the truck is now in service.

J. J. Supple demonstrates how to operate the ladder from the top so as to position the ladder exactly where needed. (Photo by Don Emmons)

Rob West operates the ladder from the truck. (Photo by Don Emmons)

The ladder is extended to its full 100-foot height.


The new truck has a built-in water pipe with a nozzle at the top of the ladder. The direction and spread of the water spray is controlled from the base of the ladder.