To Hell With The Debates…

It’s not like they would have made any difference to me anyhow.  I didn’t watch the debate because I was in the Keller Citizen’s Fire Academy last night.  The class included a tour of the fire engines, ropes, ladders, and what they call “hose evolutions.”  We were also fitted for bunker gear for the upcoming class on vehicle extrication and a simulated fire exercise.  We learned how they use the fire hoses and were given a chance to use them.  I always knew that those hoses were under pressure and it took some manhandling to manipulate them, but I never fully appreciated just how much effort it took.  They typically run the hoses somewhere between 90 and 120psi, depending on hose length and other conditions.  They took pity on us and only ran it around 80-90psi.  Even with that it took a coordinated effort between the person on the nozzle and the people on the hose to aim the stream.  It was easier on the fog setting, which is used to quickly cool down a room.  It was amazing how much cooling effect that fog spray has.  It creates a suction behind it and cools the air for quite a distance.  If you watch firemen on TV, you may also notice that they use a circular motion with the fog setting.  I learned that it’s important to use a clockwise motion, which works with the Coriolis effect to move the smoke and heat away from you.  If you go counter-clockwise in this hemisphere you could end up with smoke and heat coming back on you.

But the centerpiece of the class was Keller’s newest addition, a 100-ft ladder truck, unit T583:
(original source of photo is here, which is odd given that you’d think the Keller Fire Department would have more info on this truck on their website)

It might seem like overkill for a city the size of Keller to acquire an $800,000 100-ft ladder truck (with all equipment it comes close to $1 million).  However, they explained that with recent growth Keller now has several buildings that would require this kind of truck if a fire were to break out.  The new town hall is a good example (a picture can be seen here).  They would not have been able to fight a fire in the new town hall with their existing apparatus.  Additionally, there are a number of large homes in some of the newer subdivisions that require a long ladder to be able to get over the fire from the property line.  In those cases it’s a matter of both height and length.  This ladder is capable of full horizontal extension if needed, which allows for people to get into the basket from the ground and for them to move the ladder to any position needed.  In one of our previous classes, they also mentioned that this truck would be needed for a new assisted living center that is currently being planned.  It will be a four-story wood-frame structure, requiring a tall ladder for any kind of rescue and fire fighting operation.  Finally, there’s the Home Depot, which while it isn’t terribly tall, is a very large building and would require a lot of elevation to get water where it’s needed.

The final thing they did for the class was to allow us to go up in the basket.  They gave us safety belts which attached to the basket with large carabiners then took us up two at a time.  I usually don’t like heights, but I was surprised that this wasn’t too bad.  It rocked a bit when it changed direction, but otherwise it was quite smooth.  According to the readout in the basket we were at 101-ft.  From there we could see most of Keller, although given that it was dark it was hard to make out some of the details.

These classes are intended to give local residents a good understanding of what the fire department does and how they operate.  But I think they’re shrewd to let us get such a close look at the equipment in that it gives us a better understanding of why these things are necessary.  I gripe a lot about taxes (although in the overall scheme of things, the city taxes aren’t that bad; it’s the damn school taxes that bug me), and I’m generally of the opinion that the less done by government the better.  But fire and police are probably services that can be effectively delivered by local governments.  There are a lot of other things that Keller does that seem wasteful to me (like the town hall, which seems a bit extravagant or the aquatic center with the stupid name), but police and fire spending seem like good things to me.  This class has just helped me determine that our fire spending is going to the right things.

Comments are closed.