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City takes delivery of tiller truck; $2 million engine will go into service later this summer
tiller truck
The Pierce Arrow Tiller truck with a 107-foot ladder the city took delivery of this past week will now be outfitted. It will go into service later this summer.

A tiller truck — the fire engine that has a 107-foot aerial ladder along with two drivers — at first glance  to the general public may seem to be just a tool used for rescues from multistory buildings and to fight large structure fires such as distribution centers.ay see

But that’s only a small part of their value in saving lives and fire suppression.

*It is the most flexible engine which allows it to navigate into areas that standard fire engines can’t.

*Tiller trucks have additional room to carry heavy specialized rescue equipment.

*They allow for quick ventilation of residential roof fires, a key procedure to minimize fire and smoke damage.

 *The trucks also are effective at combatting residential fires as they are able to get water on fires from above.

It is why the city opted for a Pierce Arrow Tiller Truck to replace its 15 year-old Sutphen Quint aerial platform truck.

The truck has been in service for 15 years. As such, it long ago passed its recommended frontline service life of 10 years.

It has been requiring extensive maintenance to keep in service.

When the Pierce Arrow Tiller Truck goes into service later this summer, the existing aerial platform will become part of the department’s reserve engine fleet.

Reserve engines are used when frontline engines are being serviced or if there is a major fire and off duty firefighters are called back.

“With a 107-foot ladder and an articulating trailer, it will be able to access most streets and buildings,” Fire Chief Dave Marques noted.

Marques announced at Tuesday’s’ City Council meeting that the department has taken delivery of the truck.

The current truck has been credited with helping reduce fire losses since it first went into service 15 years ago.

The ladder not only allows roof ventilation quicker, but it also often gets water quicker on fire hot spots.

It is one of the advantages of being able to apply water from above.

The ladder also helps in situations where there are parked vehicles blocking access.

Tiller trucks, also known as a tractor-drawn aerial or hook-and-ladder truck, have a specialized turntable ladder mounted on a semi-trailer truck.

Unlike a commercial semi, the trailer and tractor are permanently combined and special tools are required to separate them.

It has two drivers — one in the front and one in the back.

All firefighters are being trained to drive the tiller truck.

The city has been using an older tiller truck for freighters to train on while awaiting the Pierce Arrow truck to be outfitted for service.

The truck’s design allows it to navigate narrow streets as well as congested areas.

It is why a number of jurisdictions often dispatch tiller trucks to freeway accidents.

Not only can they often maneuver better through the congestion but they have room to carry specialized rescue tools beyond the Jaws of Life devices that are on all of Manteca’s frontline fire engines.

The truck allows firefighters to deal with multistory fires and rescues given the city now allows 5-story structures.

The tallest building in Manteca is the Great Wolf Resort at 83 feet with the AMC Manteca 16 theater at Orchard Valley being the second tallest at 75 feet.

The truck had to be ordered nearly 2 years in advance. It cost $1.7 million.

By the time it is outfitted for service, the overall cost will reach $2 million.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email