The Flower Mound Town Council recently approved the purchase of what will be the biggest addition to the Fire Department’s fleet, a 107-foot Tiller Ladder Truck. Flower Mound Fire Chief Eric Greaser explains what this truck does, why it was needed, and what this means to Flower Mound homeowners.
Q. First of all, tell us what a Tiller Ladder Truck looks like and what are its various functions.
Chief Greaser: A Tiller, also known as a tractor-drawn aerial in the fire service, is comprised of two components – a tractor and the trailer it pulls. The trailer carries a 107-foot aerial ladder, a large array of ground ladders, compartment space, and additional equipment.
At the end of the trailer, there’s a second driver, who is called the Tillerman. The Tillerman steers the rear wheels, which aids in maneuverability.
The Tiller will be painted the standard Flower Mound Fire Department black and red color scheme, to match the fleet.
Q. Why is there a need for this type of truck in Flower Mound?
Chief Greaser: There are areas of Flower Mound with pretty narrow roads. Despite its size, the Tiller will actually be instrumental in navigating these areas because of its shorter turn radius. In fact, the Tiller is more maneuverable than a “straight” truck, and is able to be positioned better for rescue or firefighting. It can also be stabilized quicker than other types of trucks.
Another great bonus is that it has the compartment space for our heavy and technical rescue equipment, and a 45-foot ground ladder. This longer ground ladder will help emergency crews reach a building’s fourth floor for window-accessible-only rescues. Right now, we cannot reach those heights with our current stock of ground ladders.
Q. Please explain what an ISO rating is and how this will help our ISO rating.
Chief Greaser: ISO stands for “Insurance Service Office,” which is a for-profit organization that provides statistical information on risk. The ISO visits municipalities, including Flower Mound, and evaluates various aspects of a city and its fire department. A Fire Department receives an ISO between 10 and 1, with 1 being the best. Flower Mound has a Class 2 ISO rating.
There are only approximately 200 cities across the U.S. with a Class 1 ISO rating, out of roughly 50,000 ISO-audited fire departments. There is little or no difference in homeowner insurance rates for residents who are served by a Class 1 versus Class 2 Fire Department. The benefits are noticed most in commercial insurance rates, which could be valuable economic development tool.
In 2017, the Town was re-rated by the ISO and representatives indicated a second ladder truck was needed for Flower Mound to maintain or improve its Public Protection Class (or ISO) rating. This was determined by looking at total road miles covered by a single truck, the number of multi-floor buildings in Town, and the necessity to provide a second truck during active fires. Currently, the Town has 19 buildings with four or more stories.
Q. When does it arrive and where will it be stationed?
Chief Greaser: The Tiller will be ready in spring 2020 and will be housed at Station No. 5. The ISO recommends ladder trucks to be stationed every 2.5 miles from each other for developed areas of Town, with five or more buildings that are three or more stories (or 35 feet) in height. Our current ladder truck is at Central Fire Station, off of Broadway Avenue, so these two trucks will be properly spaced apart.
Station No.5’s district also has a number of multi-story buildings within it, which was another deciding factor in the Tiller’s placement.
Q. Do you need any special training to drive a Tiller?
Chief Greaser: Yes, there is a 90-day training course, with the majority of that for the Tillerman. The Tillerman has to learn a lot of complicated communication techniques between him/her and the driver to coordinate turns and just driving the truck in general.
Q. Anything else you’d like to add, Chief?
Chief Greaser: Once the Tiller arrives, we’ll be sure to announce it to the community and do a special video about its capabilities. We’re all excited for its arrival and increasing our capabilities here in Town.