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the NFPA compliance is not a moot point to the manufacturer. if you order a non-compliant rig, the mfr will make you sign a very clear waiver that says you, as the AHD, Authority Having Jurisdiction, waive the compliance with the standard and are taking responsibility for the unit as a non-compliant piece. Its a real big deal for the mfr because in the event of an accident, everyone is going to ask why the piece was not made to NFPA standards and the mfr will haul out the waiver and say, " we told them and they choose to take the decision in their own hands." I know all about low budget purchasing, I worked with Mack in the 70's and delivered many rigs to Mt Vernon and Yonkers and all over the county. I'm still guessing that the ladder deal is an NFPA issue, not a money issue, and someone from FDMV can look up the specs and see if the NFPA is mentioned. I have no doubt about any of the monetary issues brought up, I just doubt the ladder is one of them. As far as the used vollie rigs, they were NFPA compliant at time of manufacture and thats all that is required. NFPA is not retroactive, although there is a standard under consideration to limit the lifespan of appratus. If that goes through, everyones buying habits will change or almost every department will be non-compliant.
As someone who is on the selling side of the apparatus business, I can tell you that none of those Long Island departments cut out the escape ladders for "monetary reasons". I lived on LI for 35 years and the fire districts out there do not buy on the economy scale. The Aerialscope is probably the most expensive piece out there. Most of them today are going for well over $950,000 without a pump. The escape ladder are basically aluminum ground ladder sections with a set of brackets on each boom section. My guess is the total cost of the ladder is less than $ 2,500. If you are specing a scope, you don't cut out $ 2,500 for the ladder. Someone can get the specs on the Mt Vernon scope and see if they mention "NFPA compliance". If they do, issue solved.
Directly from NFPA 1901 "Annex D" which explained many of the changes to the standards after 1991: Many requirements were added to increase the operating capabilities of all aerial devices. For aerial ladders, the minimum design strength of the rungs was increased, a height requirement for the hand rails was specified, a minimum load carrying requirement for folding steps was specified and the aerial ladder had to have a minimum carrying capacity of 250 pounds at the tip at 0 degrees elevation at maximum extension. Where a water tower was equipped with a ladder, the same requirements as applied to an aerial ladder were required of the ladder on the water tower." Thats my story and I'm sticking to it. You can argue with me all you want, but this is the NFPA annex that explains the change to the standard. If you are going to have a ladder on a water tower, its got to meet the requirements of an aerial ladder. The Aerialscope ladder doesn't meet those standards and the only way to have a compliant Aerialscope is without the escape ladder. The Mt. Vernon and those LI units are NFPA compliant water towers. With escape ladders they would not comply. I can tell you that the committee went round and round about the Aerialscope specifically, that there was nobody willing to make an exception for that unit, and they represent a tiny portion of the aerial market, particularly used in the Northeast corridor and some very few other areas. Please don't shoot the messenger, i just wanted to explain why many of these units don't have escape ladders.
The answer to the escape ladder on Aerialscopes is simple. The NFPA standard for aerial devices changed a few years ago, and the new standard has specific qualifications for escape ladders. Much of the change relates to rail heights and other standards. The Aerialscope standard escape ladder does not meet the NFPA standard for an aerial ladder for climbing. So departments are faced with 2 choices regarding NFPA compliance on an Aerialscope. They can buy it without the escape ladder and it now is classified as a "water tower" not an aerial platform. Many departments have opted to purchase it without the escape ladder in order to have an NFPA compliant aerial. I believe the FDNY aerialscopes are not NFPA compliant and FDNY signs off on that. The issues that Mac referred to "boom shifting" would also not comply with NFPA standards, but I am not certain they are still an issue with the current generation of Aerialscopes. I was told that is no longer a problem since the single extension cylinder was changed to the current generation hydraulics. A few of the ones on Long Island do not have the escape ladder for the same NFPA compliance reasons. The NFPA standard really puts fire departments between a rock and a hard place. Put the ladder on and you are not compliant, don't include it and you comply but have a smaller level of back-up safety. I do not know if Seagrave is offering a comlpliant escape ladder, because it would have to meet the hand and side rail heights of the NFPA, and would probably add 12-20" to the height of the unit. That would keep it out of many of the older stations Bottom line, Mt Vernon obviously wanted to purchase an NFPA compliant unit and couldn't do so with the standard escape ladder.