• Fireman Roland Wiesnet lowers the basket on the garrison's new ladder fire truck at the Grafenwoehr Exchange, Oct. 14.

    An arm up on fire safety

    Fireman Roland Wiesnet lowers the basket on the garrison's new ladder fire truck at the Grafenwoehr Exchange, Oct. 14.

  • Fireman Alex Richter demonstrates features of the new ladder truck's basket to Jalissa Darling, 3.

    Tiny fire tot

    Fireman Alex Richter demonstrates features of the new ladder truck's basket to Jalissa Darling, 3.

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany-- Christmas came early for firefighters, and this year they finally got what they've been asking for.

As part of an effort to update its aging fleet of fire trucks, Installation Management Command Europe garrisons received eight ladder trucks and four aircraft rescue firefighting trucks, recently.

Fire stations in Grafenwoehr, Rose Barracks and Hohenfels each received a ladder truck, and will also get two wildland fire trucks by the end of November; in addition, Hohenfels added an aircraft rescue truck to its arsenal.

Among other technical upgrades, the new ladder trucks boast a larger basket, which can carry 60 percent more weight, and a longer ladder (32 meters versus 24). In addition, the new articulated ladders allow firefighters easier access to windows and balconies, and can even be used to reach over the roof to access the opposite side of the building, according to Josef Rodler, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr fire chief.

Representatives from the garrison fire departments receiving trucks completed a comprehensive four-day course, learning the myriad ways to employ its tools. Those representatives will now train the remaining members of their fire departments.

"The truck is almost as maneuverable as a Smart car, but it does not give up capability," said Gerhard Goegelein, a firefighter for USAG Ansbach.

Although each of the ladder trucks carries a sticker price of about $900,000, garrisons will actually save money, as the previous trucks, which were over 20 years old, were prohibitively expensive to maintain; in some cases spare parts had to be custom made because they no longer existed.

The purchase also allowed IMCOM Europe to return four leased vehicles, saving an estimated $480,000.

In addition to the ladder trucks, firemen are giving the aircraft rescue trucks a warm reception.

"This vehicle is really what we need," said Josef Binner, a crew chief with the U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels Fire Department. "It has enough extinguishing agent, accelerates and maneuvers great."

"With an air crash there is no time to lose," he said. "We have to be on scene within three minutes and then you need lots of water and foam to knock the fire down. And you need it quick. With 3,000 gallons of water, we finally have it."

The trucks have an onboard sprinkler system to allow them to get closer to the fire, and also carry an infrared camera, which USAG Katterbach Crew Chief Peter Goetz said is worth its weight in gold.

"We can now find the exact hot spots and cool them down so the fire does not reignite," said Goetz. "Basically, we can now extinguish a fire before it occurs."

As part of Fire Prevention Week at USAG Grafenwoehr, Oct. 10-14, Rodler and his firemen visited local schools, youth centers and CDCs, familiarizing children with the fireman's ensemble and reminding them whom to call when they need help (Fire department, dial 117; military police, 114; add the prefixes if calling from Main Post or Rose Barracks, 09641-83- and 09662-83, respectively. Otherwise, dial 112 for the local fire department or 110 for the police, and the call will be directed.)

The week culminated with a static display outside Grafenwoehr's Exchange, where the firemen demonstrated various pieces of equipment, and, of course, their new ladder truck.

In some cases it was hard to tell who was more excited about the equipment, the children or the firemen.

Editor's Note: IMCOM Europe contributed reporting.

Page last updated Mon October 24th, 2011 at 00:00