Niagara Falls, NY
Thomas Colangelo, City of Niagara Falls, New York, Fire Department. I am the fire chief for the past– going on eight years now. And it’s been a pleasure to be a fire chief.
We get millions of tourists here a year. They come, and they are amazed with the falls, and just the area, and the foliage around the falls. We get them from all over the world, all over the world, people come to see the falls. It’s one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world.
We service the tourists, and we also have a large community of people that live in the city. We have an industrial area. It’s not quite as big as it used to be, with chemical plants, and other industry, and residential areas, warehousing areas. We also have an upper and lower Niagara River that is unique to us with some fire things. As that we have the upper river, we have some swift water rescue situations that we run into. Also there’s a gorge in the lower river, so we have to have– Our men have to be trained in gorge rescues.
One of the apparatus that is unique in this is our rescue truck, which is a Rosenbauer. And we use it for getting equipment to the areas of swift water rescues or gorge rescues, getting them the additional equipment we need to our regular apparatus.
One thing about Rosenbauer is when you spec things out, you should know is that they don’t just have a factory full of trucks. You go pick one out, and take what you get. You spec it out, and they build it to your specs, which a lot of places don’t do that. Building to your specs is what you need. We specced out we wanted a command center in there, and they made the room and made me the apparatus to have the command center. Some people wouldn’t need that. But we needed it, so they specced it out and fit the command center in there. Plus everything that we needed in a rescue truck, they also expanded it out and made it available.
2009, we bought our first Rosenbauer. They still hold up so well. All of them look like they just rolled out of the showroom. They hold up very well. So I would think, this is probably going to stay in service 20 years, maybe more. The body type that’s on it, the build of the metal and stainless steel, we hope to get a long time, a long period, out of this apparatus.
All right, we’re going to give you a tour of our 2015 Rosenbauer heavy rescue. It’s basically a large apparatus that carries all the equipment that we need to get to different types of emergency scenes, all in one vehicle. We’ll start with the driver’s seat. It has all of the conveniences that you need as a driver, all the modern warning devices for any type of heavy fire apparatus.
We have a tripod for confined space rescues that we have to go under the ground with. Extra foam for our engines, for fighting fires we need to use foam at. Numerous types of vehicles, shovels, lights, Stokes basket for our gorge rescue. When somebody is injured in a lower gorge, we put them in a Stokes basket on a backboard, and we hoist them up.
We have some specialty, some tools, just regular hand tools. You always need hand tools at a fire scene or emergency scene. Absorb All for any type of scene where we got to pick up oil or any type of chemicals that need to be soaked up with Absorb All.
One of the main things that we need for this apparatus is carry our SCBA bottles. When we have a fire scene, crews are going in, coming out. They do have some bottles on their apparatus, but it’s not enough when we’re going in and out of a large fire. So we need a vehicle that can support replacing everybody’s bottle.
This is probably our main, main reason why we have to have a heavy rescue like this. We have to fill our bottles right on the scene of a large fire, so that we have enough to keep going.
We have the controls for our high altitude light, and it could light up a whole area in front of a house fire at night. People don’t realize that there are no lights on at night. The street lights are far apart, so we want to light up a whole area, and this vehicle does it.
So we go in the back compartment. This is a really good feature. This is a very, very good for emergency car scene. Or any time we need to use high pressure tools, we can hook up to this. And then, here is our power box. We hook all our lights and everything up to it. But it gives us distance, distance to bring this power. It’s another useful tool that our other rescue did not have.
This winch hooks up to the back, comes out, is controlled right here. It saves us from having to call a special vehicle in from somewhere. We can actually do it right now.
Some things for the weather, we have a cooling fan. We do get 80, 90 degree days in Niagara Falls during the summer. Also we have some cut confined space equipment. Occasionally, we have to do a confined space rescue. We have communication equipment and cables for that.
We’re already looking at adding new shelves and new space to this, because we had so much room on this. Rosenbauer designed a rig that gives us more room, and we’re going to take advantage of that more room.
We do, and especially in the summer season, get a lot of gorge rescues in our lower river. And this is our ropes and our auxiliary equipment. Every apparatus has it, but then this brings everything we could possibly need additional to our emergency scene. Especially gloves, specially helmets, carabiners, anything that is used for high angle rope rescue, we have it on this rig.
This is a nice thing is Rosenbauer has is a slide out, so we can grab it easily out of the rig. Shovels, brooms, everything you could think of you need for any type of emergency situation, stokes basket. It saves you from having to reach inside a compartment and yank it out. Instead, it comes off really easy.
Prior to this rig, our command center was a battalion chief standing in front of his car, was a command center. So when we have a large emergency, we’re going to be there a long time, I wanted a command center built into this. And our old vehicle, apparently, had space for all its rig. So when I talked to Rosenbauer, I said, I want a command center in here. Someplace we could sit, put all our information, and get information in.
What we have is a work station here. We can access anything we want to on the internet. We have apps on here that we want to use for emergency scenes about chemicals, trains, anything we need to access here. But the command center was the biggest, biggest thing I wanted with this. I wanted to be able pull this out in front of a large scene and be able to do operations right from this rig. And that’s something we never had before.
We’ve been very happy with the Rosenbauer apparatus. 2009, we bought our first apparatus, and we have six now. They spec it the way you want. They build it in the factory the way you want. And I think no department should be remiss to purchase a Rosenbauer and not be happy.
Durability has been great. Any problems we’ve had, even minor, have been fixed right away to our satisfaction. And we’re very content with the Rosenbauer fleet.