Piedmont firefighters get new state-of-the-art aerial ladder truck

PIEDMONT, Calif. (KTVU) - Firefighters in Piedmont are getting a new, much-needed tool: a state-of-the-art aerial ladder truck.

The new truck is replacing their current one, which was 25 years old.

"We are very excited. This is our first new truck in 25 years," Fire Capt. Dave Swan said.

With a price-tag around $800,000, it's not an everyday purchase for any fire department.

"The city maintains a vehicle replacement budget, and it was our turn," Swan explained. "We have airbags, which are new - we have three-point seatbelts - which are new. We even have a black box on it, similar to what an airliner would have."

One of the things firefighters say they really like about the new truck are the guardrails on the 75-foot ladder. They are about a foot and a half tall, while the old guardrails were just four inches high.

"With our old ladder it was really, really dangerous at the top because you had no safety cage. Even when you were buckled in you had no safety to your left or right," Lt. Justin McNulty said.

There are no multi-story high-rises in Piedmont; but there are wildfires, and plenty of hills.

"If there's fire in a house built on the side of a hill that was real steep, we could extend the ladder up," McNulty explained.

The truck can also be used for cliff-side rescues on some of the steep hills, and for fires that may occur in some of the community's larger homes - some of which are larger than 6,000 square feet.

The aerial ladder truck is a resource Piedmont will likely end up sharing on occasion.

Piedmont Fire Department has mutual aid agreements with several East Bay cities, including Berkeley, Albany, Oakland and Moraga-Orinda.

All of the department's 24 firefighters will be trained on the new truck.

After its cabinets are fitted with new equipment, you may see it rolling down a street near you in the next two to three weeks.