I'm a Fire Fighter for the city of St. Petersburg Florida which lies in Pinellas County which happens to be the smallest, most densely populated county in the state of Florida. As of his writing (July 2015), I've been on the job for a little more than thirty-one years. I'm a certified driver-engineer for both fire engines and aerial ladder trucks. The ladder truck in the picture is a new E-One HP-100, 100 ft. all aluminum aerial platform. The HP-100 replaces a 1997 Pierce 100 ft. aerial platform with an all steel aerial. Given the fact that we live on the Gulf of Mexico, we are having issues with hidden rust in our aerials and a decision was made to move to all aluminum ladder towers a couple of years ago. At a cost of $820,000.00, not including the tools and equipment it carries, it was a significant expense. Our latest aquisitions are now topping out at around $1M! As long as you keep good steering and brakes on a fire engine you can run it for twenty-five years without a problem. With a ladder truck with a steel aerial on it - all bets are off. Each aerial must be recertified each year and the aerial section electronically checked for rust. Rust kills! Aerial failures never give a warning.
I'm a proud member of the International Association of Fire Fighters; the Florida Professional Fire Fighters & locally the St. Petersburg Association of Fire Fighters IAFF Local 747. I'm the Senior Vice President (C-Shift) and I gladly work for over one hundred Brother and Sister fire fighters and fire fighter paramedics on my shift. I'm a graduate of several national level labor & safety classes given by the IAFF. My job is to act as a conduit between my co-workers on my shift and our three principal union officers as well as helping to ensure that everyone goes home safely at the end of their 24 hour shift. I'm very proud of the IAFF. The IAFF is a labor organization that is run by it's members from the ground up - not the top down. Transparency is the order of the day.