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Fire District takes steps for ladder certification

October 3, 2012
By J.T. Whitehouse , Town Crier

The Western Reserve Joint Fire District completed a day of ladder testing on Wednesday, Sept. 26 and served as a point of operation for several other departments. Each ladder was tested to see if it would meet the safety standards of a reliable piece of equipment.

"The National Fire Prevention Association sets national standards for ladders," said Fire Chief Emeritus Sonny Chinowth. "They require every ladder a fire department uses to be tested annually."

For the Poland Department, the annual testing costs have been lowered by combining with other departments and using Station 91 in Poland Village to serve as a testing center.

Article Photos

Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Dana Long from TUV Rheinland Industrial Solutions from Michigan spent the day at the Western Reserve Joint Fire District’s Station 91 in Poland Village on Wednesday, Sept. 26 to certify the fire department’s ladders. He is pictured here placing 500 pounds of weights on the center of the ladder to ensure it will maintain the weight.

"Coitsville, New Middletown, and Lowellville all meet at Station 91," Chinowth said. "They each contract with the same company we do, and that keeps the price down."

The WRJFD contracts with TUV Rheinland Industrial Solutions from Caledonia, Mich. The company handles the required testing in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and other states. TUV technician Dana Long said for the extension ladders, the test is simple.

Extension ladders are broken down into two single ladders. Each ladder is then placed on holders that are roughly eight feet apart and the distance from the ground is measured. Long then places two weights totaling 500 pounds onto the center of the ladder. The ladder bows and the weights are left in place for five minutes. After that time period, the weights are removed and the ladder is again checked as to distance from floor. It should have returned to its original position.

"If it bends more than a half inch, then it has to be taken out of service," Long said.

Not all ladders can be carried into Station 91's bay. The ladder on the department's big ladder truck has to be tested in action on the truck.

"We have to do seven tests including standing the ladder straight up, extending it, rotating it 360 degrees, bringing it back and bedding it, and do all of those in a timed test," Chinowth said.

Included in the testing is extending the ladder all the way out and running water through the ladder's piping.

The final test is to extend the ladder out and place weights on the end. The test is to see if the overload alarm and signal function. When the extended ladder is overloaded, it trips an audible alarm and a light to send a warning. Both those alerts have to function for the ladder truck to pass.

While the Poland ladders were given a turn in the tests, the three other departments were taking turns bringing in their own vehicles and ladders. TUV technician Don Swenor said with four fire departments coming to one location, his company doesn't have to do four separate set-up and tear-downs. That means each department gets the service at a lower rate since it is, in essence, shared.

Both Swenor and Long have been performing ladder tests as a team for the past eight years.

"We are on the road nine months out of the year traveling to departments in various states," he said. "From Poland, we are heading to Elyria for four days before returning to our home base in Michigan."

Once the testing was completed on Wednesday, the Poland Department received a report on how each ladder did. Chinowth said for the firefighters, it is insurance that the equipment they must use in an emergency situation will perform correctly.



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