Bucket Ride Increases Regard for Firefighters

Editor, News-Register:

Recently I got the thrill of my life. Please allow me to explain. My nephew, Paul McIntire Jr., is a lieutenant on the Wheeling Fire Department. Sometimes I stop at the station and have a cup of coffee with him. During one of these visits he asked me if I would like to go up in the bucket. I said OK. Thus began the thrill I started telling you about. You see, the bucket he is telling me about is on the back of L1. Now, L1 is the largest fire truck in the fire department’s fleet and when the bucket is fully extended, it is 100 feet above the ground.

But before we can go up those 100 feet, we have to go to the practice field. Now, Fireman/Driver Bob Heldreth comes on the scene. Paul tells me to get in the front seat. Wow, the first thing I see is dials, and buttons and switches of every kind. I thought I was in a commercial airliner up front with the pilot, but Fireman/Driver Heldreth knew how to operate every one of them if and when they were to be used.

Now he puts the L1 in motion. First, you do not turn right or left right out of the garage. Bob takes this huge truck straight across the street before he starts to turn. You see, the L1 has quite a swing when turning and if the driver turned too sharply, he would take the garage door and some of the wall with the truck. But Bob handled things like the professional he is.

Now we are at the practice place. The first thing that must be done is pull a sliding piece out of the side of the truck (on each side). This is done to stabilize the truck when the bucket is 100 feet up. After this is done, it is safe for Paul and me to get in the bucket and go up 100 feet in the air. My, what a view from up there. Paul explained everything you can do while up that high.

I learned one thing I didn’t know about the bucket. You can turn 360 degrees around. Quite a feat. Well, that was the thrill of my lifetime. After seeing what firemen have to do before and after they get to a fire, I now have more respect and admiration for firemen everywhere.

Jerry Morris