By Alan Burkhart
I had the dubious pleasure of being stuck in Ft Worth, TX during the ice storm in early January. When I finally got to load up and leave, it was at least something interesting. I picked up a load of "caged" ladders at Cotterman Company in Arlington, TX and delivered them to the new Fire Department Training Center being built by "Roco Rescue" in Baton Rouge, LA.
A caged ladder is the sort you might see hanging off the side of a refinery storage tank, or a fire escape ladder in an industrial area. Aside from the regular stuff ladders are made of (ya know, like rungs), there is also a series of steel bands around the ladder to add a degree of safety. Sort of like climbing through a bunch of Hula Hoops.
The training center is built from a bunch of old 40-ft cargo containers like you've all seen stacked "piggy back" on rail flat cars, sitting in ports or being hauled on a container chassis by truck. They're stacked five-high, and inter-connected with walkways, ladders, etc.
The structure is designed to allow fire fighters to train for various emergency scenarios. There is even a mock-up of an elevator shaft inside. Trainees and veterans will be able to practice rescue operations inside, rappel down the sides, etc.
The whole thing looks like a giant-sized version of a stack of boxes I duct-taped together for kittens many years ago. Probably just as much fun, too. Maybe I should sign up for a course? Then again... as fat as I am, maybe not. ;-)
There are more pics of the new facility below.