WILLISTON, N.D. – As of the morning of Wednesday, December 9, Williston Fire Department’s (WFD) newest apparatus, a Tractor Drawn Aerial (TDA), has gone into service.
Also known as a tiller, this TDA, Truck 1, will run out of Station 1 on 11 Street West and replace WFD’s 75-foot straight frame aerial, Ladder 4.
Initial planning for the tiller began March of 2018 and an order was placed in February 2019.
“A TDA is the most versatile and maneuverable aerial apparatus available and brings significant benefits that allow Williston Fire Department to be more effective and efficient,” emphasized Division Chief of Operations, Matt Clark. “Select personnel have spent the better part of the last two months training and working on specific skills in order to best serve the community via this new apparatus.”
Twenty-nine personnel have undergone a multi-phased evaluation-based training process including initial training from Pacific Northwest-based Response Training Group (RTG).
Individuals had to meet set standards to advance and training included a 40-hour classroom and hands-on course, task book assignments, cone courses, and road tests.
TDAs are unique in that they require two drivers, one up front and the other at the back. Unlike a straight frame aerial, a TDA can “split” as the back is a trailer being steered independently of the front. This maneuverability allows the tiller to navigate around obstacles and traverse in and out of tighter areas.
“Having this capability allows firefighters to get closer to a structure for easier access and victim rescue,” explained Lieutenant Ryan Miller, the tiller’s program and training leader. “We are now able to maneuver with ease through Williston’s multiple apartment complexes, townhomes, downtown store fronts including alleyways, and schools.”
Noticeably longer than any of WFD’s straight frame aerials, the tiller also includes a 100-foot ladder for high rise response and significant compartment space.
“Compartment capacity is anywhere between 500 to 600 cubic feet, compared to 150 cubic feet for a straight frame,” stated Lieutenant Miller. “With this space, our TDA can carry more ground ladders and a greater variety of useful tools for different jobs.”
Like any other aerial apparatus, the tiller comes equipped with outriggers, or struts, for stabilization when the ladder is in use. Typically, each outrigger includes separate pads to rest on that must be placed out in advance. Instead, the new TDA has built in pads which shortens set-up time and only two outriggers allowing for a smaller set-up footprint.
Quicker response times leads to a better department Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating which has a direct positive effect on the community when it comes to insurance breaks.
In addition, the tiller operator responsible for steering the back half of the truck, has a higher viewpoint than those in front allowing for greater visibility while navigating intersections, positioning the turntable of the aerial, and looking for overhead obstructions such as wires.
“In the fire service, minutes and even seconds count,” emphasized Lieutenant Miller. “The tiller’s capabilities of efficiently responding to calls, on-scene positioning, and quicker set-up time for aerial operations will prove invaluable.”
For more information on the Williston Fire Department, please visit www.wfdems.com and follow WFD on Facebook (@WillistonFire).
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