How high can the fire department's tallest ladder reach?

Dec. 13, 2011

The City of Waukesha has some of the tallest buildings in the county, which means that if the city's Fire Department needed to use a ladder to get to the top of one of those buildings in an emergency, the ladder would have to be pretty tall. But just how tall are the department's ladders?

According to Battalion Chief Joe Hoffman, the fire department has three ladder trucks in its fleet: One truck has a 100-foot ladder, one has a 75-foot ladder, and one, a reserve truck, has a 95-foot ladder with a bucket on the end.

One of the tallest buildings in the city is the eight-story apartment building at 801 N. East Ave., Hoffman said. When you figure individual floors in most buildings range from 10 to 12 feet high, the 100-foot ladder should be able to get to or near the top of the building, depending on a variety of factors including how close to the building the truck could be positioned during an emergency.

Interestingly, although a ladder truck is one of the iconic images that come to mind when thinking about a fire department, those ladders aren't involved in most rescues, Hoffman said. The true workhorse of the fire department is the ground ladder, which can be set up and moved around more quickly and easily than the elevated ladders on the trucks.

While taller ladders for ladder trucks do exist - there's one model that's 135 feet tall - they've never really caught on in the United States, Hoffman said. The City of Milwaukee's tallest elevated ladder is also 100 feet, he said.

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