News: JBM-HH Fire Department reaches new heights
Story by Courtney Dock
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - The Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Fire Department added a new ladder truck to their arsenal of apparatuses Aug. 9.
The truck comes to JBM-HH from Defense Logistics Agency New Cumberland, Penn., and will improve the capabilities of the joint base Fire Department.
"Right now we depend on mutual aid for that particular capability," said JBM-HH Fire Chief Russell Miller. "Our ground ladders don’t exceed beyond 24 feet. Anything beyond that and we’re dependent on mutual aid for support."
Russell said Arlington County has two aerial devices and one ladder apparatus like the truck JMB-HH received. He explained that before taking possession of the ladder truck, mutual aid response times could vary depending on what’s going on in the surrounding communities.
"If Arlington County had a one-alarm assignment, 50 percent of their resources are gone. Then we’re dependent on Alexandria City or Fairfax County," said Russell. "We’re completely dependent on Washington D.C., at Fort McNair. This gives us a greater capability.
"Where it really comes in to play, is if we have a disaster of some kind, another earthquake, a hurricane, something like that, in the surrounding jurisdictions all of their resources are going to be used up," he said. "And likewise, they ask us to assist them. But we’re on our own at that point, so this is a perfect example of why we need our own capability."
The ladder truck was a surplus truck for New Cumberland, said Russell. DLA got a new truck, so their ladder truck became available to fire departments within the Army first. The chief had to first add the need for the ladder truck to the fire department’s table of distribution and allowances and then write a proposal for approval at the joint base level as well as Installation Management Command. After a site visit and final approval, the chief, along with some fire department staff, delivered the truck to JBM-HH.
So far, Russell said, the total cost to the base for the truck has been around $5,000. He added the preventive maintenance was done under DLA’s contract before turnover of the truck. The life expectancy of the truck requires it be replaced in a few years, however, the investment right now is worth it, said the chief.
"You can’t put a price on the capability," said Russell. "To get that capability for $5,000 is great. There’s more to it, but for now, to get that capability is money very well spent."
Almost immediately after the truck arrived at the fire station, JBM-HH firefighters began familiarizing themselves and training on the apparatus.
Capt. Roger Rearden said the firefighters will each need to be trained on the new apparatus.
"Everybody needs to be certified in the aerial operator as well as driver and other technical processes like ropes, knots and rigging that go along with a ladder truck," Rearden said. "It’s different than from an engine company with just hoses."
Rearden, who has experience working on ladder trucks at previous fire departments, is eager to have the added capability.
"The ladders we carry on our engine trucks are 14-24 foot ladders," he said. "Those are normal for residential houses or getting into windows. This truck goes to 102 feet, so we can get to the roof of any building or the new barracks. We can get to any of those windows if we need to make a rescue."
Rearden, along with Firefighter Mike Jackson, accompanied the chief to deliver the truck to JBM-HH. Jackson helped get the ball rolling in bringing the truck to the joint base.
"I have a friend at New Cumberland and I knew they were getting a new truck, so this one would be available," said Jackson. "I let the chief know and he worked to get it added to the TDA."
The overall capabilities of the fire department will continue to improve as training continues on the new truck.
"We’re getting more and more capability to provide a greater level of service to our community," said Russell. "We’ll be able to deliver a more efficient service or more organic service, and we’re doing it in the most cost effective manner possible."