Inside Look: Training Day as a Tuscaloosa Firefighter
Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue is taking part in its annual tiller truck-driving training course located in the University Mall parking lot.
Tiller trucks are used to maneuver through tight spaces and their long affixed ladders aid in rescue missions that involve tall buildings. Tuscaloosa and Birmingham are the only two cities in Alabama that own tiller trucks, likely due to the abundance of towering office buildings, apartment complexes and narrow alleyways.
Tiller trucks are also different from fire trucks in that they do not have water reservoirs for firehoses.
Driving a tiller truck takes an additional 30 hours of training, which is completed only after a promotion to Apparatus Operator. During an interview with the Tuscaloosa Thread, Lieutenant Jonathan Burroughs maneuvered the course while Lieutenant Adam Watley divulged what it takes to pilot a firetruck.
The firefighters explained their experience working in Tuscaloosa County, why tiller trucks are important in keeping the community safe and one firefighter offered a heartfelt retelling of being a first responder during the April 27, 2011 tornado. Watch the video below to hear their stories:
Off-camera, Apparatus Operator David Wilde demonstrated what it's like to maneuver the back-end of the tiller truck. The Apparatus Operator's job is to do the opposite of whatever the front driver does – if Burroughs turns right, Wilde turns left – all to make sure the long truck does not knock anything over.
In this case, the trainees worked with orange cones. In a real-world scenario, this could be applied to merging onto the interstate or driving down narrow roads on the University of Alabama campus.
This extra training ensures firefighters are efficient in emergency situations. Participating in the driving course yearly keeps drivers sharp and able to handle extreme road conditions in a moment of need.