Waveland firefighters train on new ladder truck

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - The Waveland Fire Department wants to be prepared to battle a major blaze like the one that destroyed a D'Iberville apartment building Tuesday night.

Fire officials say the city's new ladder truck is the tool that will help them with that. WLOX News took a look inside the firefighters' first hands on lesson in operating the truck.

Firefighters know that practice makes perfect. That's why they are learning the do's and don'ts of operating the city's new ladder truck.

"The guys need to be confident and competent in its use, so that's what we're doing training," said Waveland Fire Chief Mike Smith.

Knowing how to operate the truck is only part of what the crew is learning. Using it as a rescue tool is part of the hands on lesson too.

"The first thing we're simulating is if we had someone on the roof of a burning building and they were in eminent danger. The firefighters have to quickly deploy the ladder, get up to the roof and get that person immediately out of danger," said Fire Trainer Russell Shoultz.

The truck's ladder has the capability to extend 78 feet. It's a necessary tool in a post Katrina world.

"Most all of the houses and structures south of the railroad tracks are elevated structures now . The apartment complexes, those sort of things, need the use of a ladder truck," Smith said.

"The importance of a ladder truck was illustrated the other night in D'Iberville. Anytime you have a fire in a structure that's off of the ground, these trucks can be used for four different things. It can be elevated fire suppression. Like we saw in D'Iberville the other night, you can quickly get there and cut off the fire from spreading to other areas. It can be used to access the roof," explained Shoultz.

It's a $673,000 investment that didn't directly cost the taxpayers of Waveland anything, but will ultimately save them money.

"We were able to work it out to where we're paying for the truck with our insurance rebate money, so it doesn't cost the citizens any additional money," said Smith.

"This is one of those investments in the community that helps lower fire ratings, which in turns lowers our fire insurance cost in the community," Shoultz said.

Earlier this week, ladder truck training for Waveland firefighters was in a classroom. The hands on training will continue until the entire crew is comfortable and knowledgeable in using the unit.

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