When it comes to firefighting, five feet can make a big difference. Just ask Jim Callahan, assistant chief of Black Rock Volunteer Fire Company of Upper Providence Township.
'Our previous tower, a 1987 Mack Aerialscope that we had for years, was 95 feet and it did a good job for us,' said Callahan. 'But in recent years more commercial establishments have sprouted up.'
For example, the Hilton Garden Inn off of 422 Oaks exit and Providence Town Center off Route 29.
'It was the height of these buildings that dictated to us the purchase of a longer ladder,' which, he explained, is why the company acquired a brand new 2012 Pierce 100-foot tower ladder.
The tower ladder, which cost $980,000, was purchased with funds from the fire company's relief association, Upper Providence Township, grants and fundraisers.
One of the features of the new ladder is the ability to clamp a hand-held ladder to the front of the tower bucket.
A perfect place to use the ladder is at Providence Town Center, Callahansaid.
'Something interesting about the center are the roofs. When you look at the buildings, those are not the actual roofs. Those are parapet walls...a false front. The actual roof is six to 10 feet below the top of the parapet. The added five feet, coupled with the clamping feature, allows us to extend the ladder above the parapet top, affix the hand-held ladder, and then descend to the actual roof.'
Housing developments in the township are still another reason to acquire this particular length of firefighting apparatus.
'There are housing developments that sit far back from the road,'said Callahan. 'We need the extra push from the ladder to get from the road to the roof of the house.'
Callahan said that this piece of firefighting apparatus is Black Rock's first combination truck which is also equipped with a pump capable of extinguishing fires.
'This truck is capable of handling any type of emergency we get dispatched for,' he said 'We can take care of high angle, confined space and vehicle rescues as well as residential and commercial fires.'