A truck company is a single apparatus commonly referred to as a “fire truck.” While the terms ‘fire truck’ and ‘fire engine’ are often used synonymously, they are actually quite different.
Think of an LAFD fire truck as a rolling tool box with a large assortment of ladders combined with steering wheels in both the front and rear. Unlike a fire engine, LAFD fire trucks do not carry or pump water.
The tools and ladders carried on fire trucks are most often used at fires to perform a task known as ventilation. This involves climbing to the roof of a building to cut holes that allow for much of the heat and smoke inside the burning building to escape. Doing this improves conditions for firefighters inside who are trying to extinguish the fire and locate any victims.
The largest ladder carried on LAFD truck companies is known as the ‘aerial ladder.’ It stretches 100 feet in length and is hydraulically powered. It is mounted to the apparatus on a turnstile that allows it to rotate direction.
A second steering wheel is used to steer the rear wheels of LAFD fire trucks. This is done to better navigate through tight traffic conditions and to more preciously position the truck for raising the aerial ladder. The firefighter assigned to this position is known as a ‘tillerman.’
Like fire engines, all LAFD truck companies are staffed by members who are certified emergency medical technicians (EMT) or licensed paramedics. A truck company that is staffed by all EMTs is considered to be basic life support (BLS). If the truck company is staffed by a firefighter who is also a paramedic, it is considered advanced life support or ALS.
Some of the tools carried on truck companies are specialized for emergency medical responses. One such tool is commonly known as the “Jaws of Life.” This tool is hydraulically powered and designed to pry or cut apart vehicles in order to access victims trapped inside.
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