Battalion Chief Nick Carlson
Rapid City, SD
We have a little bit of paradise right here in the western part of South Dakota. And we’ve got the Black Hills which is absolutely amazing during the summer time. We are a college town. We have the School of Mines which is very well known across the world for its engineering division. I am the Operations Chief. I oversee the fire side. I’ve been in the fire department for 22 years with Rapid City Fire Department.
In the ’70s we had a flood here that went right through town. They have a memorial park right there that does recognize the flood and the victims of that flood. When we redevelop Rapid City area, the civic center came about that time and it’s right down by the flood plain. We have a great downtown revitalization project going on where they’re revitalizing the whole downtown and making it enjoyable for all ages. We also have Dinosaur Park. It’s some concrete dinosaurs up on the middle of what we call the Hogback that goes to Skyline Drive, which goes right through the middle of town. And then the one thing that most people know about Black Hills is Mt. Rushmore.
We noticed here with the increase in population and the increase in structure fires, we were starting to do multiple structural fires at one time. And that really necessitated us to upgrade our frontline ladder truck operations. We use a de-icing fluid. We call it mad water here. Well that is eating away at our chassis. De-laminating rust is what they call it between the chassis and the torque box. You know, after seven years you can’t have a million dollar piece of equipment go out of service. It’s just unacceptable. So how do we fix those problems?
We have two mechanics. Got with them. You know, they’re first ones. What do they think? They did a lot of research. They really looked at the hot dip galvanized. They let us tour the the plant and make sure that we understood what hot dip galvanized was and how it works in the process that it does, to fight the de-laminating rust issues that we have. It’s just a customer service aspect that you don’t see very much anymore.
Then they have this lowering hose bed that you can load it from the ground level, which is phenomenal. The guys are absolutely excited about getting to use it. Every member here really cares about this department and what’s best for this city. For me, top shelf all the way. You know, you go through the process. And they’re always there helping, coming over and visiting, making sure you’re getting the product that you want.
This is our 101-foot Cobra platform built by Rosenbauer. First thing we’ll point out is the mirrors on these. Instead of the door mirrors, we went to the bus mirrors on the front. And you get really a much better view on the mirrors that we’ve chosen to use on this. Some features that we put in here, they have the cameras. One looks down the right side. One looks down the left side. And then you have a rear view camera. Heating and air conditioning. We do get hot. We do use these rigs as rehab units. So we do have air conditioning in all of our engines that allow us to have a place for these guys to go and cool off if they’re in a structure fire or in a significant event.
And also inside, we have an EMS cabinet. We opted the EMS cabinet in the middle. We do do the EMS side here, the ambulance service. And we have several paramedics that ride on the engines. And that’s what they keep their equipment in.
So this is pump panel. Some really nice features on the pump panel that we like. This low profile intake manifold by Task Force Tips, it keeps the dimensions a lot lower. It’s easy to set the relief valve on here. We really liked it. Plus this attachment here is pivoting so you can get the right connection for the angle when you connect your LVH. We have a Foam Pro so we can pump foam to all three cross legs and the bumper nozzle if we have to.
We also have what they call an air primer. A nice feature about the air primer is you don’t worry about it getting hot like you do a regular primer, piston primer. You start pumping and you can click it into autoprime. And if the truck senses that it’s losing a prime, it can automatically start trying to draw and reprime itself to evacuate the air.
They have these really nice climbing ladders that fold in, get tucked away. They also have lighting for the steps as you go. There’s lighting on each stairwell as you go up. And you’re able to access it. And it gets nice and out of the way.
This is the remote for the platform. Get the outriggers out and set, then you can run the platform from down on the ground while you’re pumping. All the controls are right here, allow you to control the stream, raise and lower the stick, extend it, move it where you want. So up here on the controllers, it’s a lot of the same digital readout that you have as you would up in the bucket or down by the outrigger. All the controls are the same. The bucket guy has control and then the tower guy can override him for a safety feature if he has to.
Being a local in South Dakota company and feeling that same mentality is really what drew us there. And they could make the product that we were looking for.